When I took a sabbatical a few years ago, I decided that my theme/purpose was Creative Renewal. I set off for Europe with no itinerary, but plenty of notebooks and eyes wide open. Anything and everything that caught my fancy was recorded and composted.
Like all the sabbatical takers I had interviewed, I consider if one of the best things I've ever done.
Long term travel isn't the only option, of course. Taking regular jaunts to inspire yourself is good for your creative spirit. Even a day trip can yield results if you are open to it happening.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to recharge and refresh my entrepreneurial self.
Visit a legendary business. Long before I set foot in Rejuvenation Hardware in Portland I was a fan. I'd been getting their catalogs and loved their storytelling as much as their merchandise. Seeing the business in person did not disappoint.
Another happy visit took place on a trip to Minneapolis when a friend suggested we pay a call on Wild Rumpus, the imaginative children's bookstore. Somehow I had never managed to get there when I lived in the area. Now I know better.
These kinds of places don't always show up in guidebooks, but savvy entrepreneurs who are willing to scout them out often find ideas and inspiration that they can synthesize into their own operations.
Browse at a flea market. Whether or not you're shopping for anything in particular, a couple of hours chatting with entrepreneurial sellers can be a fine way to invest some weekend time.
If a seller isn't busy, ask about their business. Why did they choose the merchandise that they sell? Where do they find things that they market?
For some sellers, it's a little sideline, while others travel the country marketing antiques, art or clothing. Most sellers are also social beings and love to share their stories.
Make a pilgrimage. The moment that I heard that the deYoung Museum in San Francisco was hosting the largest display of Dale Chihuly's work ever gathered in one place, I knew I had to go. I'd been tracking down his work in cities I've visited for the past several years, but never had attended such an abundant display.
I have, however, flown across the country and across the ocean with the intention of attending a special exhibit of the works of artists that I love or to hear a performer or author I admire.
Making the effort to admire creativity enriches and enhances your life.
Visit an entrepreneurial city or town. When my friend Chris Utterback was alive, I always looked forward to my visits to her in Connecticut where one of our regular amusements was to
visit our favorite shopkeepers in neighboring villages.
I still love to visit towns where shopkeepers cluster. When I paid my first visit to Sedona, Arizona, I was delighted to discover the hometown shops and restaurants. Nearby Jerome is another place rich in entrepreneurial energy.
Like flea market sellers, shopkeepers who specialize in selling things that they love are frequently eager to talk about their passions.
Large cities, too, often have neighborhoods where locals run quirky little businesses. Scout them out.
Be a tourist in your own hometown. During my days living in Santa Barbara, I always enjoyed visits from out of town friends with whom I could share this lovely spot. After one of these visits where I played tour guide, I realized that I wasn't taking advantage of interesting things in my own backyard.
It's a common oversight. I've met Londoners who've never visited the Tower of London and New Yorkers who are only vaguely aware of the Statue of Liberty.
Every so often get off your beaten path and go see something a visitor wouldn't dream of missing if they came to your part of the world.
Go on a treasure hunt. When my friend Georgia Makitalo was getting married in Las Vegas, she scoured the internet looking for a venue. Then she asked me if I'd be willing to check out a couple of her top choices. I spent the better part of a day visiting wedding chapels and then filed my report. It wasn't something I'd normally be looking at, but I enjoyed every moment.
If you're a collector, you already know the fun of treasure hunting, but if you aren't so inclined, invent a project and see where it leads you. Find the best taco or creme brûlée within fifty miles of home. Or see if you can discover the most eccentric business in your area.
Entrepreneurial excursions can inspire and inform, of course, but the best part of taking such a trip is the possibility of encountering someone who is genuinely doing what they love.
As artist Danny Gregory reminds us, "When you are in the deep end of the creative pool surrounded by others full of energy and ideas and examples, you learn to swim a lot better."