Albert Einstein said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
After some brilliant conversations at work with a co-worker who also happens to be very insightful and hilarious, I now also think of this as being a Roomba. You know, those little vacuums that clean your floor on their own, but that when they get stuck in a corner, they just keep going ‘bump’, ‘bump’, ‘bump’. And they never stop. They are stuck in a loop of insanity.
Do you ever feel like a Roomba? I do. Whether it’s a work problem or a personal challenge, sometimes I get stuck in a corner just bump bump bumping against a ‘wall’, doing the same thing over and over and hoping that my ‘wall’ will get out of my way. Don’t get me wrong – I know that it won’t. It can’t. The solution is for me to get out of its way. But there I am, ‘bump’, ‘bump’, ‘bump’, all the same.
So how do you avoid being a stuck in a corner, facing a wall, doing the same thing over and over and over again? The answer is – you don’t. I certainly can’t. It happens, from time to time.
Instead – the real question is: How do you get out of the corner when you get stuck there?
It’s not easy. You have to be patient with yourself. Try new things, take risks, explore the unexplored. Do what is unexpected. Sometimes, allow yourself the time you need to be stuck in a corner – all be it a finite amount of time – but you may be surprised at the answers you find in the corners of your mind (the corners that never get dusted).
Sometimes, inspiration strikes me when I’m in my corner, going ‘bump’ ‘bump’ ‘bump’. Sometimes, I have to turn off my ‘batteries’, re-charge, and turn myself around 180 degrees before I see what I couldn’t before. And sometimes, just like the Roomba, I need a nudge back into the right direction. Whatever works.
Just don’t be a Roomba.