Good, Thoughtful Hosts #302: Inspiration Through Movement with Ross Hamand

Continuing with our season three theme, we’re chatting with Visualization Design Manager (and yogi and rock climber…) Ross Hamand about how he uses movement to spark inspiration. Turns out a little physical exertion has been proven to get our creative juices flowing.

Cushing Terrell Architectural Digital Illustrator Ross Hamand

Episode #302 Transcript | Listen on SoundCloud

Producer 00:00
Today’s special guests.

Ross Hamand 00:03
I’m Ross Hamand. I am a visualization design manager at Cushing Terrell. I am a design professional. I’m trained as a design professional, but focus on the visualization side of things.

Sarah Steimer 00:19
Awesome. Well, Ross, thank you for joining us today. And let’s dive right in Ross. What inspires you?

Ross Hamand 00:26
Yeah, so, what inspires me most or what I’ve spent a lot of, I guess, my life and career focusing on is the idea of practice, a challenge, something that I need to work at the better at. So this idea of practice, and constantly having to push myself to better my design better my visualizations better my personal life better, my active life. So just this idea of practice.

Sarah Steimer 01:00
Hi, everyone. I’m Sarah Steimer. And welcome to good thoughtful hosts. Now, before we jump into our conversation with Ross about how his particular hobbies helped inspire him, let’s talk a little bit about the research behind physical activity and creativity. For starters, a 2013 study found people who engage in regular exercise perform better on tests of creativities, compared to their more sedentary peers. The researchers found that regular exercise is associated with improved divergent and convergent thinking, which helps in problem solving, and are both considered components of creative thinking. And we’re talking about exercise as both something simple and a more major exertion. So you know, it doesn’t always have to be a hit workout or a five mile run, it can be something as simple as gentle yoga or a nice walk. So 2020 study out of Stanford University, found that a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60% when walking, and it was the act of walking itself, not the environment, that was the main factor. So that’s what the scientists have to say about physical activity and creativity. But what we’ll talk to Ross about today is his take on why yoga and rock climbing helps to peak is inspiration. I want to start with because I think this is one of my favorite examples that you gave me when, you know, you and I talked separately, that you know, you’ve got some physical hobbies. So rock climbing, yoga, for example, that have become a practice for you. Can you tell me a little bit about how that sort of physical practice has kind of helped to inspire some of your work?

Ross Hamand 03:10
Yeah, absolutely. So again, getting back to this idea of practice, and yoga, for example, is a great something to talk about, because they call it a practice intentionally with the idea that you can’t necessarily ever get perfect at it. And that’s one of those things that attracts me to yoga, the idea that I can always practice it, I can always get better at it. But it’s also a mental separation from my professional life and my work. So when I need to go recharge my batteries, or just stop physically thinking about something like a problem I’m trying to tackle at work. Yoga is something that I can not only get what I’m looking for, from that practice standpoint, but also not be actively thinking about a problem. You know, this was something that I didn’t really discover until a little bit later in life. So post college, I, I spent most of my time just headed down, trying to tackle a problem. No matter how much time I spent on a problem. I could always spend more time on that problem. But I never really found that that was a solution, a good solution. In terms of if I spent all the time I needed to, I would finally get to that solution. What I found later in life was separating myself from those things and going out into nature or going practicing yoga, or going skiing or going rock climbing. Rock climbing is another great example of practice something that you can do as a lifelong practice and always, always get better at it. There are just a few individuals and you entire world who you could potentially say are the best of the best. But you can always get better with things. So having an outlet to separate myself from my professional work, and allow my brain to actually recover, but also still achieving that, that what I’m looking for that practice that I’m looking for. That’s why I have kind of gravitated towards those activities.

Sarah Steimer 05:28
What do you think it is about because it sounds like you’re sort of describing inspiration as the ability to lock into this thing that you fundamentally know how to do. So maybe you know, when you are practicing yoga, when you are rock climbing, your body knows what to do, your body knows where to be in space, and to move forward. And that allows your mind to take a little bit of a rest. What is it about that physical movement, that allowing your body to go forward having that forward momentum, while also shutting off a tiny bit? Is inspirational to you?

Ross Hamand 06:05
Yeah, so yeah, it’s a good question. It’s, I think the inspiration comes from the knowledge, or the the hope and the knowledge that through experience, past experience, when I’m able to go in and partake in those activities, and quite literally stop thinking, in particular yoga, for example, a great place to get to when practicing yoga is when you’re so deep into a flow that your mind begins to shut off. And you stop thinking entirely, and you’re just going through the motions. But now then coming out of that, and re engaging your brain, once that practice is over, I have more frequently than not experienced all of a sudden, like an insight into a problem that I had been thinking about. And my subconscious was still there was still constantly thinking about it. But my conscious brain was fully in the moment. So again, getting back to this idea of my past experience has told me that when I can go into those activities, I can come out of them with actual practical knowledge that I can then apply to whatever problem I’m trying to solve.

Sarah Steimer 07:26
That’s, that’s really, you know, it’s making me think of really that idea of creating space for yourself. So allowing there to be the room to solve a problem or the room to come up with a new angle, even on a problem that you’re working with. Something that I was thinking before we hopped on this call was how something like yoga practice, like yoga practice, like rock climbing, it’s almost like you know, the fundamentals. But there is still a challenge happening. And whether it’s the challenge of you know, there’s some pretty obvious challenges to rock climbing. But even with yoga, there are still physical challenges or mental challenges to sort of turn the brain off. Or maybe you haven’t gotten into a certain pose before, or maybe a certain pose is just harder today than it was yesterday. So there are still challenges. So it’s this balance between fundamentals and challenges. Do you feel like this is in a way reflective of what your work is, as well, where you have this skills, you’ve got this pre existing knowledge, but you’ve got to use those skills to solve the problem.

Ross Hamand 08:29
Absolutely. Focusing on rock climbing, for example, with my professional life, what I really enjoy, what I like about what I do in particular is on any given day, I don’t necessarily know what I’ll be working on. And it’s this constant influx of different problems that I need to try and find solutions for, and taking that into the climbing world. So just if I’m going to the climbing gym, for example, one is very similar between that idea of always having a new problem to solve. There’s always new problems to solve at the gym. So you’ll look at a rock climb, or a route. And you think about it, you often sit down, you don’t just dive into the wall, you don’t just start climbing necessarily, you’ll look back, take a moment, breathe, literally breathe. That’s a very big part of both yoga and rock climbing. But look at that problem and try and work out the solution before literally physically trying to tackle it. That’s a big part of the fun of rock climbing for me personally, is that problem solving aspect of can I work this out in my mind before I try and actually solve it?

Sarah Steimer 09:46
I liked the idea of that pause that you’re sort of giving yourself in that practice. And it’s it’s something that, you know, it’s so easy to especially considering our work culture, it’s that idea of like rise and grind, and there’s nothing about rise and grind that sounds like you’re giving yourself a minute to breathe, before you get started, or a minute to breathe while you’re working on something like it truly makes us sound like we’re just cogs in a wheel, this idea of rise and grind. Do you think that kind of taking this more mindfulness from this physical practice into your work practice? Do you think that’s been sort of instrumental to help you solve problems be inspired, etc?

Ross Hamand 10:28
Absolutely, it plays a huge role, this idea of stepping back, thinking about it before just diving in and trying to tackle the problem, whatever project I’m working on at any given time, it plays a huge role. In that, it helps to wrap my mind around the problem that I have, right that moment, think about the path from point A to point B, how am I going to get through this project in the timeframe that is required? And what are the steps that are needed. So it’s very common for when someone comes to me and need something needs me to create a render, and that’s in this visualization world, for me to take a good solid hour too, prior to just diving in to the program and beginning to work on it. And organizing whatever content I’ve been given. Think about what it is that I need to do, and what the final outcome is going to be think have a almost like a linear process going through in my mind of, okay, not just organizing the steps, but just taking a breather, understanding that it could be and can be very often very overwhelming to get all of this information, and then just have to get it cranked out in a certain timeframe. But understanding that I have the skills, I have the experience, I have the knowledge, I can get this done, I just have to make it manageable, clarify it in my mind, and then dive in and begin working. So just it is very similar to what I described with the rock climbing, I’ll take that moment, I will breathe, I understand that I understand that I know this, this is something I do. I’m good at it, and then dive in and not let myself get overwhelmed or stressed out.

Sarah Steimer 12:18
I mean, what you’re really talking about, it sounds like to me with the yoga, the rock climbing and your work process is you’re taking these steps to stabilize yourself. Because if you’re just winging your arms out winging your legs out, jumping headfirst into a process or a project rather, without collecting the materials, like you’re saying, gaining all the knowledge that you need, you’re gonna miss step, you’re gonna fall you’re gonna whatever, and all of these things. So this really does sound like a very stabilizing practice for you. You know, I, I thought about this while we were talking earlier. So I believe I shared with you previously that I used to teach yoga, I’m a certified yoga teacher. And it’s sort of something that I’ve gotten a little out of practice about, I took a workshop this past weekend. And it was funny to me how as soon as I sort of stopped thinking too hard, I actually solved something that I wasn’t even trying to solve, like, something just sort of popped into my head where I was like, oh, that’s why it was just this very, like, as soon as I created the space for it, I went, Oh, have you ever had that happen when you’ve been working, where as soon as you maybe take a step back? And you know, you might have been working on one project, you take a step back pause, stabilize, that maybe you even solve a problem with a different project, whether it was past or something you’re working on concurrently? You know, Has that ever happened? Just that sort of like, you stabilized life here? And something gets solved over there that you weren’t even trying to find us?

Ross Hamand 13:42
Absolutely, yeah, yeah, absolutely. As I kind of mentioned a little bit earlier, you know, this idea of stepping away, and knowing that no matter what you do, whether it’s an activity, just go for a walk, go for lunch, whatever it is, stepping away, not looking at the problem actively and understanding that you are still subconsciously trying to think about that issue and working it out. And I have found in my personal active life and professional life, that it’s almost as common to solve a problem with my subconscious than it is with my conscious I can think about it actively stare at the screen, saying get the solution. But then when I step away, it might take an hour, it might take two hours, I might be working on something else. As you mentioned, I might actually shift gears and work on something completely different. And this is it’s kind of like a lightning bolt or a light bulb, kind of like what you described, all of a sudden, it’s just like being there it is. It just showed up the solution in my mind, and I wasn’t even actively thinking about.

Sarah Steimer 14:52
So I wanted to really, maybe get an example from you of a time that maybe you did step away from Have a project and do some yoga or do some rock climbing or whatever it was that that stepping away that getting into that flow state, whatever it might have been that active flow state helped you solve something.

Ross Hamand 15:13
Yeah, so I can think of many specific examples, it’s a little hard to describe without listeners knowing exactly what I do, but I model three dimensionally in programs in the computer. So I use a number of different programs to create spaces and forms and three dimensional models. And when you’re doing that, it’s very common to encounter issues where you don’t necessarily know how to create the form, you can have very complex forms that need to be created, and you need to re produce those forms digitally in the computer. And this can get this can be a very tricky thing, if you’re not very, very familiar with the software and have a lot of experience with what you do. But even when you have both of those things, sometimes the problems are just really, really tricky. And you want it to come out the best it can or come out exactly right, ideally. And what I have found is, rather than just trying to force it, and all like model the same thing over and over and over and over again, and try and get it to work, what I found is maybe I’ll give it a try or two, and I’ll be like that did not come out the way it was intended, it did not come out, right. All your shift gears work on something else, maybe it’s towards the end of the day, I’ll just go home, and I’ll be cooking. And as I’m in the middle of cooking, all of a sudden, the idea of a different solution, a different way of accomplishing that boiling task will just come to me. And those more often than not, when I get back in front of my computer, I will instantly give a go what I had thought about while I was cooking dinner, and it just works. So this idea of just separating and letting your brain do the work in the background.

Sarah Steimer 17:08
I really I love that that you brought up that example. Because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the same experience also cooking because it is this like you’re doing something I mean, it’s not hugely physical, but you’re doing something where you know the motions, you know how to saute, chop, whatever, you’re just sort of like letting your brain float around, move around while you’re doing this thing. And then it does help you create that space once again, and also this forward momentum of you know, giving yourself the opportunity to let the answer come to you versus run after it. Well, Ross, these were these were most of my questions for you today. Was there anything else that I didn’t ask that you wanted to mention as it relates to either keeping a practice having a physical practice, whatever it may be cooking, yoga, running blah, blah, blah, and inspiration, anything like that.

Ross Hamand 17:55
You know, just that I think it’s really important for individuals to, as you very concisely said not try and chase the problem, but allow the solution to come to you. You have to work at it, you have to put in the time and the energy to accomplish the task. But if that task becomes a not a burden, that’s the wrong word. But if you if it feels like you’re chasing your own tail, step back and allow the solution to come to you. And I guess that’s where I would end that.

Sarah Steimer 18:27
Yeah, as someone who chases her tail a lot, I feel like that’s really good advice. Well, thank you again, Ross. I really do appreciate your taking the time to chat with us today. Now you’re getting me to think about even getting back into my yoga practice to solve some problems, which I appreciate. But again, thank you so much, Ross.

Ross Hamand 18:44
Yeah, thank you.

Producer 18:52
Music for Good, Thoughtful Hosts was written, produced, and performed by Sam Clapp. Our moderator is Sarah Steimer. Editing by Travis Estvold. And a special thanks to our content development team, Amanda Herzberg and Marni Moore. For more information about the podcast, visit Thanks for listening!

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