I have a six year old and I will confess that occasionally, ok often, I use my ipad as a third parent. When I am back from work, or I desperately want to read something or to answer an email I give her my ipad. It's not so bad, I tell myself, after all she has to be in tune with the new technologies - that's what her life will be all about. Only she has a hard time coming up with games to play by herself, and it is way too often that I hear "I am bored" from her mouth.
So this week we are on a holiday in Greece - three families with 5 kids and we have a rule - no electronic devices of any kind. Kids have to be creative and play. And what do you know, for the first two days everything is fine and on the third one it is again "I want my ipad and I am bored" story all over again. A pact is a pact however, so no parent gives in. And all of a sudden, when we realized that the kids had been too quiet for the last hour, we realized, that after being stuck in wanting and not getting their ipads, after being totally bored and not willing to come up with an idea for a game, and finally after not getting what they wanted they went past the tipping point. The tipping point of waiting for someone else to come up with an interesting game, or something else to be their entertainer. And the kids stayed with this tension and came up with something really great - they used the nutshells we had discarded when we had our drinks and created a collage of a city - with cars and roads and buildings and kids. They sourced their own materials - not asking for it, they came up with the idea, combined their efforts and created it. Just like they created a fort in the living room on the next morning.
I see this as a wonderful lesson in creativity. First, don't rush for it, it will come. Second, don't give up in the tension stage. Maybe you are bored, or maybe you are irritated that your project is not coming along, or that you are not getting the answers your want. Maybe you are a start-up and are wondering whether you should change your ideas based on some insights or not and do not feel very comfortable in this uncertain land where nothing is clear. Stay there long enough and I promise - your wonderful collage, or perfect pivot or excellent idea on how to proceed with your project is there, waiting for you to have the patience to stay with the tension and go past the tipping point. After which there is light. And happy creative kids :)