Re-formatting minds on higher ground |

Perspective-shifting altitudes offer a potent way to recalibrate problems, discover novel approaches and generally recalibrate what is before us. How often do we opt to stare out of a window, in search of inspiration? Try as we might, there are times when our minds are imprisoned, incapable of changing tack. At that point, it’s time for a change of scene.

I once read about an entrepreneur / artist / writer / world champion surfer who was going through a troubled patch, so decided to move into a treehouse to ‘elevate his thoughts’. Not a solution for most of those seeking to focus and problem solve - yet there is infinite wisdom in the path he chose. We have all stood on the high peaks and gazed in wonder. Inside us, changes take place. Our focus stretches, the immediacy of our everyday lives evaporates and our thoughts blur into nothingness – a complete dislocation with our pre-mountain world. 

When minds are re-formatted in this way, they are ready to consume new stimuli, open to fresh approaches, empowered to discover new perspectives. There are few settings as potent as the mountains for this recalibration of the mind.

Seeing beyond the clutter

Humans needs order in their lives and lifestyles conspire to demolish this pillar. Cupboards, garages, inboxes – they are all places where fixes are for tomorrow. Consequently, we carry this clutter with us every day, burdened by a resonant hum of status ‘in progress’. Drinks after work, time spent with the family, sports – they all offer a temporary break from the clutter. Yet to truly detach we need to immerse ourselves in the unfamiliar, to escape to a place disconnected to the ‘unfinished’. When we detach, our thoughts clear and insights abound.

A meteor in a soda can

During the pandemic, a scientist published a rough calculation, concluding that the entire global viral content of SARS-CoV-2 could potentially fit into a can of cola. I read this and was amazed. A soda can is a pretty small vessel to house such carnage, but it was a few days later when stood on a snowy mountain that the really dizzying contemplations began. I wondered how many cans of cola could fit in the valley before me, and how many of these valleys there were in the Alps, and how many mountain ranges there were in the world. Without knowing it, I had put the 330ml can in a global context, and that felt extraordinary. In many ways it was a nothing insight yet being amongst the vastness of our natural world (albeit a side valley in a corner of the Alps) triggered me to contextualise the scales involved in the pandemic. That a truly miniscule agent punched well above its weight. 

Oceans are mountains lite

I am convinced that intractable problems can be better solved in the mountains than the office – I would bet my last dollar on that. Enjoy a Michelin lunch, network, relax and head back to the office meeting room - see if that solves the intractable problems. It won’t. That isn’t to say that mountains are the only solution. Just as mountains offer the chance to stare far into distant lands, so an ocean allows a focus on a never-arriving horizon, a rainbow-type experience where something is always over the next wave. Whether on the deck of yacht or a waterfront terrace, the ocean is also a potent changer of mindsets.

Breakout from a meeting onto a terrace in the clouds and minds will run wild. A free mind can fix things that the office mind can’t. Artists escape to solitude for stimuli, corporate teams in need of new or better approaches need to elevate their thoughts on higher ground. Or at the ocean! 

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