While I Was Milking A Cow

Good Ideas Need Some Room

photo of cows in fieldYou’re driving home from work and then it comes to you: a simpler way to resolve the issue you were struggling with all day.

At the driving range with your son, the subject you wanted to bring up comes more easily than when you had spoken earlier over the phone.

A change of scenery can make all the difference. American painter, Grant Wood¹, once said, “All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.” Even though I’ve never milked a cow and am allergic to hay, I understand this statement. Good ideas need the time and space to come forth.

I Do My Best Thinking When…

photo looking out airplane windowI can always count on doing some of my best thinking when I’m on an airplane. While it’s not possible to jump on a plane every time I need 30,000 feet of perspective, fortunately these routine activities often do the trick: taking a shower, dancing or doing some yoga, going for a walk, gardening, and even making a good sandwich or preparing a nice meal.

When I worked in a corporate setting in a hectic environment, I’d sometimes leave my office for 10 minutes, head to a remote table in the cafeteria with a pad of paper, and return with a clear idea for tackling a problem. Now that I work from a home office, I still practice the “step away from the desk” technique and will go sit on the patio when I need a new perspective.


Create the Conditions

What’s your milking a cow activity? How do you get your 30,000 feet of perspective? Once you know the conditions that encourage your best thinking, you can create them.

This week, practice taking a 10-30 minute break when you’re at a loss for an idea and do the following:

  • Make a temporary change in your environment. Leave the site where you’re struggling with a problem and change the setting for at least 10 minutes.

  • Do something physical. Perform a task that involves working with your hands. Exert yourself. Move your body, move your energy, and move your thoughts.

  • Get outdoors. Fresh air does wonders to blow away the cobwebs and deliver ideas on the wind!

Here's to you,
Ginny Kravitz signature

photo of American Gothic painting¹Grant Wood (1891-1942) was a prominent member of the art movement known as Regionalism. Born in Iowa, he lived in Cedar Rapids and also spent time studying in Europe. He is best known for his images of the rural Midwest. American Gothic is his most famous painting.

© 2008, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to www.inthecurrent.com.

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