With two young (active and sparky) children, home schooling, developing a business, delivering on commissioned work, domestic chores, keeping fit, singing in a choir (albeit it virtually at the moment), and voluntary roles as a Parent Governor at our children’s primary school, a Non-Executive Director of the EAS‘ Company Board, and running Doers and Improvers book club with a few friends, quality thinking time is… let’s say… precious!
Like many people in my situation, I have honed the art of managing my time. And it is an art, not a science; a skill that is acquired and developed through practice.
I hugely value time to think. Not the kind of thinking that involves the logistics of the children’s activities for the week, what washing needs to be done, when you’re going to reduce the pile of ironing that, due to its height, it is no longer a risk to the children, whether we have enough bananas and cucumber. Of course, these are all important. I mean the kind of thinking that allows you to connect the dots, to be creative, to have the most stunning idea.
I have learnt to create space to think. This sometimes involves learning. The range of sources and topic areas for my learning is important to me, as are the channels of information. I am a fan of Audible, TEDTalks, Twitter, Kindle (primarily so that I can annotate books without feeling guilty), and of course, now online events via Zoom. But more often than not, I create the space to connect the dots.
It was during one of these ‘spaces’ that a couple of Steve Jobs quotes really got me thinking…
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.Steve Jobs
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something they feel a little guilt because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesise new things.Steve Jobs
I love the concept of connecting dots. The dots represent our experiences, people, places, information. The connecting element is the process, our behaviours, our learning, how we make connections between things. The more dots we have, the greater the options we have to connect and be creative.
In Wales we have a pioneering piece of legislation – the Well-being of Future Generations Act. This Act is about improving the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of Wales. It requires public bodies to think about the long-term, work with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems, and take a joined-up approach. When making their decisions, public bodies also need to take into account the impact they could have on people living their lives in Wales, now and in the future.
To realise the ambitions of this legislation does require a significant cultural and behavioural shift in how we all go about business in Wales – how we think, how we work, who we work with.
So, kept simply, perhaps we just need to focus on two things: ensuring we’ve got as many dots as possible, and that we’re equipped to connect them. That way we’ll have greater opportunities to connect and be creative in our thinking and action.
And I guess this is in essence what I hope from my blogs and my connecting the dots newsletter. I want these to be informative and creative spaces – spaces that stimulate thinking, spark discussion, spread ideas, advocate exploration…
…provide more dots, and the opportunity to connect those dots.
So please join me on this journey of discovery… [dot, dot, dot].