Sometimes when I have an Aha! moment, there is a lightning strike of clarity that zaps through my brain and I get goosebumps down my back. My world has just been altered. Then there are the quiet Aha! moments. Those moments slide into the back of my brain and circle for days. It’s as if my brain is marinating in a new thought, not quite able to soak it up yet. But the thought is undaunted. The thought goes around again, waiting for the right moment to make its move. Finally, I find myself in the middle of a conversation saying, ‘That reminds me of something I heard the other day….’
Workshop with an innovator
Recently, I attended a workshop with a professional innovator. I mean, for real, just the job title is amazing. What do you do? I create new ideas. Honestly!
The keynote speaker, Bettina Elbæk Pedersen, is not only a professional ‘idea generator,’ she owns, INSPITE, a type of creative think tank she began in 2006. She leads groups of people in finding a new and improved version of something. Or perhaps it’s something completely new, something that will revolutionize our lives, or simply make our lives more interesting and beautiful.
The first Aha! moment
During the workshop, Bettina said something very profound. The conversation went like this:
Bettina: So tell me (she asks the group at large) what can I help you with? What are your thoughts about creating ideas?
Me: I’m worried that the ideas flow will stop. Even as the ideas are flowing rapidly now, sometimes I feel like I should be squirreling them away for a rainy day.
Imagine now, Bettina looks…perplexed. She is really trying to figure out what on Earth I am talking about.
Bettina: So, you are worried that the ideas will suddenly …. Stop?
I must emphasize Bettina is, in a very friendly way, trying to translate what I mean. When she repeats my question, it sounds like she just said, ‘So, you are worried that there won’t be enough oxygen tomorrow?’
She isn’t being sarcastic, friends, she just doesn’t relate. There is only one word to describe her tone: baffled.
I say, very definitely: Yes, I’m afraid the ideas will stop.
The widest smile breaks across her face. She understands the question now, and like a mother who reassures her child that there are no monsters under the bed, replies confidently:
Oh no! The ideas never stop! The more you work, the more the ideas come!
Me: Wow, really? (Now who’s baffled?)
Bettina: It’s the truth! One good idea leads to another. It just flows and flows. Grows and grows.
The second Aha! moment
We all know Einstein. We all understand that Einstein was a genius. We expect that Einstein was walking around like a big ideas receptor, shouting ‘Great Scot!’ as the ideas came in a flash from on high. And Bettina entertained us with stories of the geniuses she has worked with throughout her career: Those who seem to be in their own world, working with an extra set of tools, an extra level to their brain, as she put it.
But….and this is an important ‘but’:
Those geniuses are NOT the only sources of good ideas. Bettina proposed that all of us have genius. That anyone has any number of good ideas inside them that are just waiting to be…
wait for it…
Bettina showed us methods to develop ideas. We are not expected to wait around wondering if we are going to receive inspiration today. Oh no, it’s so much more than that. WE make it happen. We actively create the solution, no matter what that solution is. We are expected to trust our instincts, purposely develop methods to help us foster creativity. It can be as simple as always making a point to look at something from another angle.
Can ideas be a metaphor?
As I further pondered my Aha! moments, I asked myself, ‘What if Bettina’s advice applies to everything?’ What if the worry about ideas being limited is the same as our fear that money is limited, time and good health too?
Why is it that the people who have plenty are often much more confident in their ability to have more? I believe it’s a question of experience. People who deal in ‘plenty’ are able to say to themselves, yes, but I got a good job before, I can get a good job again. I live in a beautiful place now and the next place will be beautiful too. Why not?
These same confident, worry-free folks have developed systems based on their experiences. They have taken hold of the reigns, so to speak. They take one step at a time, moving through their methods, confidently expecting that the next step will take them to ….’Eureka!’
I must admit this sounds pretty good. But, what does it mean if I routinely have positive experiences and I still worry? Do I really think that my good luck will run out some day? Really? In fact the overwhelming majority of us take it for granted when our lives are full of good luck. Amazing good luck! Outrageous good luck! Four healthy kids? Pish, just that is enough to make me feel lucky.
Worry be gone!
So much of our worry is like the two-headed monster living under the bed. It’s a myth. We have allowed ourselves to believe in the monster for all kinds of reasons. Mostly I think it is to distract us from the pursuit of greatness. (That sounds pretty lofty and a part of me wants to take it back, but…what if it’s the truth?)
My lasting impression from this experience is that I never want to forget Bettina’s reaction to my question. Her response was so elemental, so natural, so sure. Repeat after me: There’s no need to worry. There’s no need to worry. There’s no need to worry.