BL&T No. 183: A Reminder of the Creativity Found in the Quiet Moments

Personal Growth

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.

Borrowed & Learned

When people ask me about my 'work/life balance,' I often joke that I work all hours of the day. Whether I'm out and about, folding laundry, doing dishes, or engaged in another mundane task, I'm always thinking about the latest project in motion or whatever else is on the horizon. Sure enough, the concept for my recent webinar emerged not while I was at my desk but during one of those in-between moments.

While this is true, I've also gotten in the habit of spending much of my solo time with other people's voices—music, audiobooks, or podcasts act as my soundtrack for exercising, driving, or walking my dog. At the same time, I've gradually moved away from daily journaling, a practice I picked up in 2020. Unknowingly, it's like I've closed off my mental playground.

This realization came to me a few weeks ago during a late Friday afternoon walk with my son, Mylo, and our dog, Gizmo. We set out on a new nearby trail that winds through the woods, my favorite walk these days. Maybe it was the rush of energy from closing out my to-do's for the week or the peaceful setting, but I decided to leave my headphones tucked in my pocket.

Within minutes, I was lighter, yet my mind swirled with creative thoughts and ideas. I stopped and wrote "creativity in solitude" in my notes, thinking I might dedicate a future newsletter to exploring the topic (and here we are). The walk was a powerful reminder of what can come from being present, fully immersed in my environment. I thought of all the creative energy I'd been missing out on by drowning out the silence.

This experience has also changed my recent weekly runs, which will be up to two 11k sessions this week to give you a sense of timing. Instead of filling my ears with an audiobook, I've made a note to spend half the run focused on noticing my breathing and letting my thoughts drift. It feels like a form of meditation, much like I've felt while taking rides on my motorcycle, but it's about embracing the mental chatter vs. fighting to quiet it.

I recently finished the book Do Hard Things which captures this sentiment toward the end in the context of building resilience. What stood out, though, was how the practice of sitting with our inner voice can help us not only push through but choose proactiveness over reactiveness and stay positive.

Author Steve Magness writes, "In an increasingly distractible world, we’re slowly losing the ability to sit with our thoughts and experiences. When our inner self becomes foreign, we become hyperreactive to anything it says. Our interoceptive awareness declines, as we lose the ability to read and understand our inner world. The explosion in mindfulness books, podcasts, and apps is a consequence of this deteriorating ability. We are looking for a solution to a distracted world, where we increasingly don’t need to deal with our inner selves. When we train our ability to be alone in our head, to sit with thoughts and sensations, we’re better able to disengage from negative stimuli."

The quiet times spent journaling or simply being alone with my thoughts have been some of the most valuable over the last several years. Before this ritual, there was a time when solitude could spiral me into negativity, especially during my music pursuits when I'd face a creative block. Yet, during the pandemic, through the discipline of regular journaling, I found an unexpected comfort in my own company. Solitude evolved from a source of anxiety to one of inspiration. In that way, Magness' insight resonates deeply.

Looking ahead, I plan to carve out more opportunities to welcome these silent moments in my week. I won't abandon listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts, all of which offer their own flavor of inspiration, but it's about finding a better balance. I also can't wait for the warmer weather to get back out on my motorcycle.


How often do I find myself reaching for my phone or some form of distraction when faced with a quiet moment?

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