Creative: Make the Ordinary Unusual

Not too long ago, I sat in an airport and looked up at a row of clocks on the wall much like those in the photo here.


(Photo taken by Marilyn M.  Originally posted here:

An idea had its seeds planted with that sight.

When I was younger, I watched the movie Dead Poets Society, where Mr. Keating challenged me to look with a new perspective.  Although I have climbed up on some desks to look at rooms differently, I now take this concept into everyday life.

A few years ago, a speaker talking about creativity challenged us to inspire creativity by finding unusual ways of doing ordinary things.  For example, if you normally drive the same route to work, take a different route.  (I did this one day and ended up driving around for over an hour!  That drive is still in my memory as I wandered and saw things I never normally see.)

Both of these concepts came together with the clocks.  As I sat there, I wondered how fun it could be to have a wall of clocks with fictional locations.

That idea sat in my OmniFocus app from April to July.  Then I prepared for a Wacky Weekend with the 5th-8th graders at my church and it resurfaced.  I used GroupMe to message a few of my friends in FourFiveSix for their favorite fictional locations, without giving them any explanation or context.

I then found six analog clocks at Target that were all the same style, with different colors for their case and hands.  I put each clock on a music stand on stage with a fictional location label for each.  In a room where students had recently pointed out that has no clock, we now had six!

When that weekend finished, I decided to let that creative, fun idea live on . . . in my office.  So, I now have my wall of clocks featuring fictional locations.  And most people who come in the room and hear all six clocks ticking away the seconds, do a double-take as they look up at the wall and see the labels.  I guarantee it inspires creativity!


One more thing . . . I always loved when Steve Jobs would say those three magic words in a presentation.  He had saved something good for last.  I’m all about the fun of having fictional clocks for creativity, turning something ordinary into something unusual.  But these also have a practical use.

Although you can’t see it in the picture, and most probably don’t notice when they visit my office, each fictional location also represents a real location where I have friends or family.  When I’m sending a message or making a call, I need to remember what time it is for those in each location.  In my mind, I know what each represents.  But for the careful observer, that is easy for anyone to see . . . like a hidden scene after the end of credits in movies.


So I leave you with this question: How can you foster creativity by making the ordinary unusual?