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High Performance: Turning on the lava lamp

December 8, 2014 -  By

Harwood-blogAny self-respecting child of the ’60s has a lava lamp on their desk or, if not, they wish they did. After all, lava lamps are not only cool, they inspire creative thoughts leading to fresh ideas and new approaches. At least that’s what my lava lamp does for me.

Let me explain.

There are times when I need to be creative, and there is no time to waste—problem needs to be solved, an article needs to be written, a presentation needs to be developed or whatever. When I find myself in this predicament, I turn on the lava lamp. I go into stealth mode. The door is closed, the email program is shut down, the cell phone is silenced and, for as long as necessary, I’ve switched my brain over to creative mode.

Don’t disturb me; the lava lamp is on.

It might take me a few minutes to get going. I make a few notes to clear my head of the clutter. I prepare my workspace to concentrate. I open up the blinds or close them, depending on what time of day it is. I check to see if the lava light is on or not. It is on, but I need to be patient.

Eventually, the lava lamp begins to come to life and the ideas begin to flow. The creative juices are kicking in. Words flow freely from my mind onto the page. Outlines come together. Diagrams and flowcharts snap to attention.

Don’t disturb me; the lava light is on.

Just about the time when the lava lamp is in full poetic motion, my creative time is ending. I cannot remain in this state for too long; I have to plug back into the outside world and get moving again. I switch off the lamp and watch the lava slowly settle back down to the bottom of the lamp. Email is back up, cell phone is ringing and the door is open. However, my creative time was fruitful, and I look forward to a future creative burst of energy another day.

Do you have a lava lamp? Of course, this is a metaphor for a place of retreat for creative thought. When your back is against the wall and you need to produce something creative or solve a critical problem, where do you go? What do you do to get into the right frame of mind? I would encourage you to develop such a place and such a process. I will continue to turn on the lava lamp. What will you do?

Now go forth.

Photo:Kumar Jhuremalani/

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About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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