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Take the time to let big ideas grow

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On a recent five-hour delay at LaGuardia Airport on a trip back to Chicago, I found myself in a packed airport lounge without a laptop—a rarity—and with a cell phone that couldn't be recharged because the few power outlets were already occupied, jealously guarded by tired and increasingly irritated businesspeople with laptops. This situation, which at first seemed like a punishment, gave me a rare opportunity to do something that we as a culture—and businesspeople in particular—aren't doing nearly enough of in today's always-on, instant-access, vibrating-BlackBerry-in-the-pocket world. I took out a sheet of paper and a pen, and I let my mind wander. I even made one of those lists popularized by “The Bucket List. The movie, which came out in January, stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as cancer patients who travel the world to do everything they've wanted to do before they die. (Watching this movie is not, in fact, on my own bucket list.) It strikes me that we've become incredibly adroit at reacting: dashing off a response to an e-mail, updating our blog or Facebook “status” message or commenting, often endlessly and repetitively, on our favorite online forum about this or that news event or topic. What many of us have sacrificed, however, are those uninterrupted blocks of time that are the gardens where big ideas, imaginative, even playful what-ifs grow and then flower into innovative new products, services, organizations and business models. OK, I'll share one item from my bucket list: “Book scuba trip.” And I have. After months of procrastinating, I leave at the end of the month. I'm pretty confident this eight-day trip, some of it spent underwater, will produce other good ideas that I can pursue at BtoB and in life. Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business. He can be reached at ebooker@crain.com.
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