InsightsPOSTED May 2, 2014

Do something awe-inspiring to reignite creativity

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EdgeWalk ticket

APEX’s “dare month” theme couldn’t come at a better time. Coming off of a tough winter, the chatter around our office has gotten people thinking about getting adventurous again, which is why I tried CN Tower’s EdgeWalk yesterday.

It was a dare to spark more creativity.

I regularly seek adventure, but EdgeWalk was one of those things that completely scared me when I first heard about it in 2011.

Why should you personally challenge yourself for work?

  • New experiences take your mind to new places. Some time ago, I read that to sustain creativity an individual has to be exposed to something new for at least 45 minutes per week (a real-life experience, not some form of media like a movie or TV).
  • Awe-inspiring experiences may make you smarter. While running a marathon for the first time could shift you toward more discipline, research shows amazing imagery of vastness can also shift thinking. Basically people show more creativity immediately after experiencing awe.
  • Personally adventurous means professionally adventurous. At FITC this week there was a common theme throughout to do something that scares you (like Stefan Sagmeister’s chat on happiness). That helps you to grow professionally but offers a side effect of happiness.

The time leading up to the EdgeWalk I flip-flopped between thinking “no big deal” to being quite nervous. When I woke up Thursday morning I thought “I really don’t want to do this.”

The day before it was so foggy that Edge Walkers who chose to go up didn’t see much, which may have helped my fear if visibility was poor. But of course, the clouds cleared up in time for my six o’clock adventure.

There are a ton of security checks as you get geared up with overalls, proper shoes and harness.

Five of us were on the walk (one from Japan, one from Mexico and two Indonesians now living in New Zealand where they have a similar sky walk that is half the height).

The whole experience is about an hour and a half, with the walk itself taking 30 minutes. At first the height is naturally fear-inducing as they walk you through a few exercises including a front lean (think Titanic pose) and backward lean over the city.

The guide also told us how in 1929, the Fairmont Royal York was actually the tallest building in the British Commonwealth. So people would come to feel a similar sort of awe (from the comfort of a luxury hotel room) that we were getting in a harness some 356 metres (116 storeys) above ground.

Of course the view from the tower is spectacular and I did remember to appreciate it, including Niagara Falls in the distance over Lake Ontario.

Fear and awe can go well together, although I suspect my next adventure will be a tad less emotionally trying. Near the end of the 360, I was ready to come in.

I would do it again, but my limits were truly tested. Now I’m ready for something different.

A few quick facts about EdgeWalk:

  • It opened in 2011 and is the highest walk of its kind in the world (a Guinness World Record).
  • About 50,000 people have done it. No one has ever fainted, gotten sick or dropped anything. But, about 25 people have chickened out (0.0005 per cent).
  • The walk is on a circular grid platform that is 1.5 metres wide – the same width as an average City of Toronto sidewalk.

Need some fresh ideas to give your brand an edge? APEX has the expertise

Diane Bégin is an Account Director at APEX Public Relations. She regular posts her other adventures on Panaramio

EdgeWalk with Toronto's Billy Bishop Airport in the distance.

EdgeWalk with Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport in the distance.

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