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How to prevent inspiration ‘blindness’

When was the last time you really looked at the art on your walls? Read that framed quote? Actually seen your desktop background?

Our brains are wired for novelty, to notice whatever is new in an environment. In order to do this efficiently, with minimal use of resources, our brains quickly learn to ‘tune out’ the constants – reducing the things that don’t change into the equivalent of wallpaper.

This means that the motivational quote you have on the shelf, the inspiring photo, even the custom-painted portrait of your dog, quickly fade into the background. We become ‘blind’ to them, and their initial impact wanes. In fact, the only people who can really appreciate them are those who rarely enter our work space – new customers, colleagues in other departments, etc. Because they’re not habituated to your objects, they get the benefit of really seeing them (as well as the opportunity to interpret what your objects say about you).

Fortunately, there are several solutions to this ‘blindness’:

1) Internal Rotation: Move the objects around the space. Swap artwork from one side of the room to the other. Move that desktop photo the shelf. Set your desktop wallpaper to change every 24 hours. This simple tweak will refresh your awareness of the work, allowing it to affect you again (which is probably why you chose it in the first place).

2) Seasonal Rotation: This is a more extreme form of rotation. Instead of moving pieces around in the space, you are actually rotating them out of the space, on a one-in, one-out basis. This could be done as often as you like, although I recommend that you do this at least quarterly. There are numerous benefits;

  • it allows you to almost forget pieces entirely, only to see them afresh when it’s time to cycle them back (almost like the nostalgia of unpacking Christmas ornaments)
  • bringing pieces back into the space creates an opportunity to assess how you or your business have changed – they may serve as a marker of an earlier time or may no longer be relevant at all (in which case it’s time to find fresh pieces)
  • it affords an opportunity to re-assess the relevance of the artwork. Does it still speak to you? Is it still relevant? If not, it might be time to look for fresh pieces.

3) Conscious Seeing: Arguably the most difficult solution, choosing to ‘consciously see’ an object can transform your relationship to it. It means taking time (even scheduling time), to really look at an object, painting or quote. Taking a few minutes to look at the details and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What does this mean to me?
  • Why did I choose to have in my space?
  • Is it still serving me to have it?
  • What do I like about it?
  • Is there anything new I can find in it that I haven’t noticed before?

Art is a powerful tool for communicating directly to our conscious and unconscious minds – but we have to be able to continue to see it properly in order to continue to benefit from it.