Creativity via Contradiction… An Ancient Tradition

Manor House Main

By Christopher Bush

A town with a 2000 year history and where the “brand new” structures are 400 years old. An environment so laden with stories you can almost see and hear them around every corner and knoll. There’s surely magic in Castle Combe, UK and The Manor House on its outskirts.  How might a little magic reveal your next great idea?

In the middle of a two-week speaking sojourn through the United Kingdom, we arrived very late Wednesday night after hours of travel and a few misguided turns. Greeted warmly by attentive staff, we were “presented” to our hosts in the estate’s small bar. Four CEOs were well into their evening imbibing as we made our ritual introductions. Charming, contemporary business leaders as comfortable in a 17th century room as their predecessors had likely been hundreds of years before. After accepting a night cap served in a goblet the size of a soup bowl, we exchanged highlights of our evening travel and the next day’s plans. It only took about ten minutes before the conversation changed dramatically…to magic.

Christopher in UK Office

One of the leaders was a fascinating figure, Martin – extremely thin, with a close-cropped silvery Van Dyke beard, donning a dark knit Rasta hat – a walking contradiction on many levels. In a quiet, up-beat voice he asked out of the blue, “Do you like magic?” Resisting the temptation to inquire if he knew Dumbledore or Potter, I responded with a tentative “yes.” Card tricks and sleight of hand were a centerpiece for the next several minutes, likely made more amazing by the goblet of gin, tonic and juniper berries.

After a round of applause our conversation turned to hi-tech espionage. Right…what could be more apropos than traveling to a several hundred year-old estate in an ancient town, sipping gin with a mysterious business leader and discussing his profession – cyber security? Brilliant! I wonder what residents of the place several hundred years ago would think of this whole picture?

And that’s just one example that defined the nature of our entire trip. Fascinating places; brilliant, inviting people; intellectual and creative stimulation everywhere.

Village of Castle Combe2

Where do you go to get great ideas, to discover something fascinating and expand your perspective? Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum any more than it is likely to occur during your day-to-day administrivia. For most of us it takes a spark…sometimes a series of sparks to start the creative process. Discovering contradictions is an excellent way to ignite creativity. When your brain begins to make connections between disparate thoughts and concepts, the result is a potential logarithmic increase in the number of new ideas. Like a super-computer crunching code in cyber-space, our minds sift through experiences and thoughts making connections between neurons never before in-touch.

Whether it’s futuristic conversations shared in ancient environs or peaceful times of reflection in Zen-like settings, giving your mind intentional time for creativity will put you in a place where you may just create an idea to influence our next few hundred years.


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