What can we learn about creativity from the Mongolians?
That is what I set out to find out by traveling to this vast country last year. I went there together with Kevin Cottam who is passionate about studying the nomadic mindset.
When most people hear the word “Nomad” they think of: “Someone who doesn’t have a home” or “Someone who always travels”.
But the origin of the word “Nomad” actually comes from the Greek “Nomas”, meaning “Pasture” and “Nomad” means “In search for greener pastures” (!)
So not just someone who moves around, but someone who is able to question his or her current position to see if perhaps it would be even better to be somewhere else.
And it is this mindset of always looking for the “greenest pastures” by challenging ourselves to “Never Settle, for too long” that Kevin’s upcoming book, called “The Nomadic Mindset”, is all about.
For the book Kevin has travelled to nomadic tribes around the world and it was for his research trip to Mongolia that I joined him.
When me at Kevin visited Mongolia we got to hear some examples of what having a nomadic mindset means and I would like to share some examples with you here.
Let’s start with a Mongolian proverb that goes: “If a lake is not changing the water, it will go stagnant” a proverb about how important it is to change.
Batgerel Bat, an energetic Mongolian women who is Head of Secretariat, for Mongolian National Branding Council said, ‘People think that nomad means physical movement from place to place (…). Nomad means the movement of the mind.”
And another Nomad, Benson, a Masai warrior said, “We are migrating … where we were is not where are.”
Both of these observations is about the Nomadic mindset of having an open mind about where to go and to where we are.
My favourite Mongolian quote that we got to hear was from a Mongolian called Binderiya who defined the nomadic mindset as: “Think vastly. Act narrow”.
In his book Kevin writes about the meeting with Binderiya: “In Ulan Bator, I met a wonderfully astute young millennial student, Binderiya who said to me, nomads ‘Think Vastly, Act Narrow’. When you considering a strategic move, or location to go to, or what is the welfare of their livestock, a nomad thinks and sees with an open and wide view of the situation = vastly – and then makes a plan and zero’s in with intense focus – acting narrowly realizing the risks that might be at stake. This happens very fast.”
Perhaps it is the vastness of the Mongolian landscape that makes it easier for the Mongolians to “think vast”, but we can all be inspired by this approach to always question where we are and to actively think about if there is a even better place we should be going to.
Be inspired by the Mongolian approach of creativity and never settle, for too long …
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