You can get tired when you are working on yesterday’s ideas. The ideas that are all used up. The ideas that are now exhausted. Every ounce of energy has been drained out of yesterday’s ideas. If they are still “good” ideas, though now fully developed, they need a different kind of work to keep them useful and profitable. Call it “maintenance mode” rather than the earlier “creating mode.”
Now, there is no criticism here; only admiration. Maintenance mode is good, and necessary. Something is built, and now needs to be maintained. I’m glad that there are good, trained people to maintain what is already built and still important.
But… when you start work on a new idea, an idea filled with promise, an idea that could make a big whopping difference, you find yourself newly, utterly energized.
Consider these excerpts from two terrific, important books:
The first steps of a creative act are like groping in the dark: random and chaotic, feverish and fearful, a lot of busy-ness with no apparent or definable end in sight. There is nothing yet to research. For me, these moments are not pretty. I look like a desperate woman, tortured by the simple message thumping away in my head: “You need an idea.”
You need a tangible idea to get you going. The idea, however miniscule, is what turns the verb into a noun – paint into a painting, sculpt into sculpture, write into writing, dance into a dance.
The unshakeable rule: you don’t have a really good idea until you combine two little ideas.
(Speaking of the Tom Swift books he read as a child) The moral of these tales was simple: the right idea had the power to overcome a seemingly overwhelming challenge.
To this day, I remain convinced of this basic philosophy: no matter what quandaries we face—business problems, health issues, relationship difficulties, as well as the great scientific, social, and cultural challenges of our time—there is an idea that can enable us to prevail.
Furthermore, we can find that idea.
And when we find it, we need to implement it.
The power of an idea—this is itself an idea.
This, then, was the religion that I was raised with: veneration for human creativity and the power of ideas.
Over the last twenty years, I have come to appreciate an important meta-idea: that the power of ideas to transform the world is itself accelerating.
Within the next several decades, we will have the opportunity to apply ideas to conquer age-old problems—and introduce a few new problems along the way.
I love this week of the year. Quiet; catch-up work to do. Decluttering; organizing…
But what I love the most is this quest, this pursuit: I ask myself “what are the new ideas, hopefully big ideas, I will pursue in the coming year?”
What about you? What new, hopefully big ideas, will drive you forward in the year to come?