‘We look forward to seeing you at the meeting next week’ came the voice down the phone. ‘See you bright and early at 9am’ she added, ‘and do bring some brilliant ideas with you!’
My heart sunk. I love my job, I really do. I love dipping my toes into exciting businesses and shedding light on how they might reach their consumer in new and exciting ways. But sometimes the pressure of ‘brilliant ideas’ can make those toes curl.
Except that now I have a new way of arriving; on foot. No underground sweaty armpits, no travel sickness on the big, red, lurching bus and all that time to catch up on my podcast obsession.
But, I was wondering, what is it about walking that makes it so amenable to thinking about all those ideas I was searching for (aimlessly) at my desk? So, imagine my delight to be sat so fortuitously next to a neuroscientist holding all the answers at lunch yesterday.
Dan (Glaser) first explained to me by using some (thank godness) simple maths. As you walk, you can work things out, see the sum for what it is. And with easy sums, the answer is in your pace. But once the sum was outside of quick fire times tables, your feet slow down as your brain struggles.
Of course your heart pumping faster circulates more blood and oxygen to your brain, our attention and memories are smarter and, by relaxing and not focussing too hard on the matter at hand, our answers are in our steps.
But perhaps the most profound relationship between walking, thinking, and idea generation reveals itself at the end of the walk. And that’s where you’ll find those ‘brilliant ideas.’