Creative Dislocation

There’s jetlag. And there’s Shanghai jetlag.

I just spent 5 days in this city I love.

A 12-hour-flip from the Miami time of my home.

5 days of dislocation.

Getting sleepy at inopportune times. In bed and tired as hell and wide awake. Riding taxis through miles of high-rise canyons blurred by rain. The gasped horror of the swimming-pool attendant as I slide into the water without a bathing cap.

I never get un-jetlagged in Shanghai. Never have.

Such are the gifts of my Shanghai dislocation.  My Chinese clients help me look in a new way at why I do what I do. The family-style food that is ceaselessly circling the dinner table makes me contemplate what I truly like in food. The stream of folks parading past me in the rain makes me consider what I enjoy about the energy of people. The pleasures of solitude.

Yet even here I run for the familiar. Settle into the second floor of the Starbucks on Huaihai Road for internet time. Devour my American-style chef salad at the resolutely non-Chinese Element Fresh.

This, of course, is not about Shanghai.

It is about the gifts of the jolt to the system.

Most work places know no dislocation. Every routine, every meeting, every process, every sign posted on a wall actively inhibits dislocation.

How do you and I enable creative dislocation without the 12-hour-flip?

Here are just some of the ways. Work in a different meeting room, different office, different Starbucks. Take a different way to work. Work different hours. Play a different role in a routine meeting. Grab lunch with different folks. Get your news from a different source. Pick a stranger’s brain. Call the colleague you never call.

Decide to deviate from your personal norm.

Dislocation is uncomfortable. And it keeps us sharp.

I left Shanghai in a sleepy daze and creatively invigorated.

Way cool.

This week, consider the benefits of deviating from your personal norm.

Decide on 3 acts of deliberate dislocation. Execute.

It will likely feel uncomfortable.

And be oddly invigorating.

Yes, way cool.