Something happened. Something happened at work and I’m not sure what the ramifications will be until next week, maybe later.
It basically went like this. I got a brand-new job, partly based off a project I’d been doing on spec for not quite two years. Right after I started, I reached out to someone who knew about that project to ask for advice on choosing a grad school in her field. She invited me to meet, which I thought was very generous, and it turned out she wanted to talk about my project. Then she asked me to give a presentation, which I did.
What I thought I would be doing was giving a brown-bag lunchtime talk to about a dozen people. I’d tell them how I came up with the idea for my project and how I put it together. I’d share the specific work tools I use and maybe teach some of my techniques. Fun, right?
Then there were 80 people there, at least one of them a director, and the response wound up being at least 10x bigger than I expected.
WELL THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY
One of the slides in my presentation came from notes I scribbled on my phone in the middle of the night, when all I wanted to do was sleep. During the Q&A everyone wanted to go back and look at that slide and discuss it some more.
Now I’m realizing that my original idea might have legs. I may have accidentally and sleepily created something good enough to be an entire book.
This kinda happens to me all the time.
The thing about ideation and creativity is that it comes out of a pipe. For some people, that pipe has been shut off for many years, and it will take more than a pipe wrench to get it turned on again, trickling out in brown sputters that nobody wants to drink at first. Then the water starts flowing pure and clean and cold.
Then it really starts flowing and spraying all over the place.
Then it’s like a fire hydrant blasting every kid in the street and it takes an entire crew to get it back under control.
This is my fountain, a high-pressure water main continually pumping by the thousands of gallons, and here I am in rubber boots, trying to collect it all in buckets and cans before it washes away my entire building.
Part of my remit now is to put together a reading list of books on imagination and creativity. I’ve read dozens of these, and if anyone can do this task, certainly I can. The trouble is keeping it under eight pages... although maybe I don’t need to...
Being a natural ideator often feels like trying to keep a beach ball under water in the pool. It keeps finding ways to pop back out and then everyone wants to play with it. The process of pushing that beach ball back underwater is ungainly, and it feels very exposed to do it in a swimsuit.
The idea is often ready before we are.
I’ve been working on capturing more things at the beginning phase of the process, the early curly part of the ideation arc, so that people can watch something unfold in realtime.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if my little grid illustration, born in the dark of night on my pillow, eventually turned into a published book? And we all got to watch it happen together?
I know what I am. Over the past several years I have developed myself into a working artist, and I have that confidence in my identity that is necessary to succeed in the creative world. What I don’t necessarily have yet are the world-class ready-for-prime-time skills that develop from practice and experience. I also don’t have the validation or credentials of having millions of fans. (Yet - but it could happen).
Possibility thinking includes anything and everything with a non-zero chance. There’s a zero chance that I will personally go to Mars, because I’m scared to get in a rocket and I just don’t want to. But there’s definitely a non-zero chance that people will go to Mars in my lifetime. Mars is a thing, me on Mars is not going to be a thing.
In that same light we can say, what else is there a non-zero chance of happening? In the past 25 years there’s been a non-zero chance of me working on a llama ranch, sorting recycling in Antarctica, winning $15,000 on a game show, or teaching MMA classes. This is because I am curious and I give serious consideration to options and opportunities that would not cross someone else’s mind as acceptable outcomes.
Is this awesome? Y/N
Would this be good for the blog? Y/N
Will this cause me to go viral for the right or wrong reasons?
Then what happens?
Sometimes I don’t believe my own hype. I can document the fact that I came up with the idea to backpack around Iceland for three weeks, and then rooked my husband into it. I can document the fact that I studied knife fighting and situational combatives. I can document the fact that I can solve cryptograms while listening to audio books on triple speed and using chopsticks left-handed. But that all makes me sound like a cartoon character. Inside I still think of myself as the world’s most boring person, because just as much of my time goes toward basic domestic tasks as everyone else.
It’s probably inevitable that I’ll wind up publishing a book, and/or giving workshops, and/or putting out a cartoon or an advice column or something. Those are just locations on the other end of the innovation arc that I’m traveling on. I can’t stop running my mouth, in realtime or behind the scenes in my own mind. Myself talks to myself a lot. It will turn into something eventually.
What remains to be seen is whether it will take 3-5 years, like I originally estimated, or whether it will happen more quickly because I have already dreamed it into obviousity.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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