Were you easily bored as a child? Perhaps you still are today? Is it really such a bad thing if, once in a while, we become bored? And is boredom the real enemy that most of us fear? After all boredom forces us to clear our brains from all the usual stuff that churns around them and to bring us into a state where new thoughts can take the place of the old ones.
My teachers in school said that an idle mind lead to depravity and sin and perhaps they spoke the truth but an idle mind can also lead to extreme creativity. I believe that in the boredom of youth most of our great ideas and adventures are born. Dreams are made and directions chosen.
As parents, we do whatever we can to alleviate boredom in our children and grand-children. It’s as if we see it as a sickness to be avoided at all times. We feed children with video games, films, TV, toys, computers and books to keep their minds busy all the hours they are awake. But most of these time fillers only encourage them to react to external stimuli. Whereas, for a young child, a plain and simple cardboard box and possible access to some paints, sticky tape, paper and a pair of siscors can do wonders.
In the rich countries of the world, Generation ‘Y’ is the generation that probably has the least notion of real boredom of any before it. And I believe that this, in part, is driving us to re-design our businesses to make them attractive to those that cannot concentrate on one thing for long enough to fit into our existing ways of working.
Every weekend millions of people try to alleviate boredom in shopping malls and during the week they do it by watching TV or shopping online. As long as you have credit you can send yourself a parcel every day and thus every day can feel like a birthday.
But what if you were stuck somewhere unexpected? Somewhere without radio, or TV, or phone, or internet, or shops, or people you know? I can imagine that boredom would quickly sink in. And what then? Would it be such a terrible thing?
In an earlier post, back in 2008, I warned about the dangers of scope creep in bored and under-utilized project teams, and in ‘Making a Difference’ I warned about the dangers for CEO’s who become bored with their businesses and start to screw them up taking the focus away from the core that delivers the profit. But today I want to promote boredom as a useful way to re-connect with our inner-selves and to see where the magic of creativity leads us. Don’t fight it, embrace it. From nothingness comes the spark of original thought.
Have a good week,