My head is full of stupid ideas. A lot of them. And I found that as I get older (and more mature) it’s a lot easier to recognize which ones are stupid. Experience tells me when not to follow through just because something pops into my head.
So, I guess that makes me a “mature adult”. But the stupid ideas keep coming. They’re still in my head, taking up valuable real estate. It got me thinking.
What do you do with your stupid ideas? The ones that are ridiculous. They don’t make any sense. Not only are they impossible, but you’re pretty sure that they’d be stupid if they were possible.
What do you call them? Are they dreams? Or hallucinations?
And then I figured out what to do with stupid ideas.
LET THEM OUT!
Release them out into the world. Tell people about them. Stop keeping them cramped up in your skull taking up space.
Because once they’re out there in the real world, you never know what can happen. They can fall flat. They can die. But they can also spark something. They can act as inspiration. Or they can get recognized as not-so-stupid. Maybe even as good ideas.
Think about the person who invented the GoPro cameras. Every single other personal video camera on the market had one thing in common – there was a viewfinder so that you could see what you’re shooting. Why would you make a camera without one? That’s stupid.
But the people behind GoPro thought that people don’t care about seeing the world through a viewfinder – they want to see the world themselves.
So, don’t discount what’s inside your head until you’ve had a chance to test it in the real world. You never know. It may be that you think your idea is stupid because it bucks convention. Because it’s truly different.
Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to participate in a discussion initiated by Brian that revolved around the concept of the story arc. What’s a story arc? All of the most popular movies, video games and books all contain the same structure for telling a story. The structure has existed for hundreds of years. Beowulf. The Bible. Even The Little Mermaid. The stories that resonate with you all follow the same pattern.
The structure is simple. First, there is a hero. The hero has been comfortably living his life. Then a conflict forces the hero on a journey. The hero faces temptations and challenges. Eventually, the hero has a revelation where they discover how to control their superpowers – they realize who they need to be. They enter a hero state and it allows them to accomplish the task set out to them. They slay the dragon and fulfill their destiny.
The Hero Journey is a universally relevant storytelling structure. Regardless of your age, gender or culture, you can relate to it. Why is that? It’s because we believe that a hero’s journey is the same as our own. Our own lives mimic the conflict, trials and revelations in the story arc. Maybe it’s your journey through adolescence to figure out who you are. Maybe it’s your journey to become quarterback of your football team. Maybe it’s the journey of your career.
We are all heroes in our own story.
And as heroes, we have to pass a series of tests. These challenges pull you into the darkness. You struggle. More often than not, you fail. But then bit by bit you start uncovering your own personal superpowers. You may only get a glimpse at first, but then you learn to understand them. To focus them. To control them. To use them to get to where you want to go.
This sparks the revelation. You realize who you need to become in order to suceed. It lets you step out of the darkness and start kicking ass.
Sometimes, life will shit on you. But when you’re in the thick of it and life sucks, just remember that these are trials. They are tests in your journey. You just have to figure out how to master your superpowers in order conquer it.
I have a friend whose favourite thing in the world to do is to create lists. She makes lists of chores. Lists of places to travel. Lists of groceries. Lists lists lists. All neatly printed and colour coded in some insane organizational system. But in this myriad of lists, I discovered one list that was very interesting – a list of things to accomplish before she turned 30.
It was a wish list of activities, purchases, adventures and memories that she wanted to have before the her 30th birthday. Interesting. It started me thinking on something else. I should start a creative to-do list.
A creative to-do list is the wish list of things that you would like to accomplish creatively. Instead of a normal listing of chores or mundane tasks, it’s an opportunity to catalog all of the creative outputs you want to produce. Put plainly, it’s the list of things you want to make.
People sail through life and get inspired to make things. But that inspiration lasts a couple of minutes. And then we get distracted by something else. So that desire to CREATE something gets buried. Which is why I’ve started to write all of those things down on a list. I call it my creative catalog because it contains everything that I want to accomplish creatively.
Here’s what I have so far:
- Build a piece of furniture
- Write a book on creativity
- Build an app
- Restore a Triumph motorcycle
- Design a poster
- Film an inspirational short based on ultimate frisbee training
- Design a pair of shoes
- Decorate a bar
- Write an article that gets published in a (print) magazine
- Develop a unique cartoon style of drawing
Now, I want to make it very clear that the LEVEL of the final product does not matter to me. The key is actually going out and doing it. Trying it once. I could find out very quickly that I’m an awful craftsman when it comes to building a coffee table. That’s fine. The purpose is to try it out. To see if you can do it. And if you can’t (or you do a crappy job), the point is then to gain an appreciation of the level of skill, dedication and learning that goes into the art of creating.
Creativity comes from gaining new perspectives and trying new things. The most creative person in the room is not always the person who has mastered one specific craft. Often, it’s the person who has tried many things and can bring the the learnings from all of those experiences together.
But you’ll never know until you start trying. And the first step is to write down your creative to-do list. What’s on yours?