“Life is a journey/ Not a destination/ There are no mistakes/ Just chances we’ve taken/ Lay down your regrets/ ‘cause all we have is now.”
Many of my fellow ADHD tribe members know what it’s like to be driving, or in a meeting, perhaps in the shower, or swimming, and have the “Great Idea” that you can’t capture in that moment. I’ve been known to pull over the car to catch it in a note on my phone, or try to speak-text it. Speak-text often turns out ridiculously. I rarely know what I was saying or thinking when I look back at what the phone thought I was saying.
True story: One of my “great ideas” was some sort of system that lets you write while soaking wet at the end of a pool lap lane. (I never quite figured that one out.)
If You Leave Me Now…
It can be maddening thinking you just had one of the greatest ideas of your life, only to find that it has left you for all time. It’s almost cruel. It feels especially cruel to me when it’s a blog idea. There are many weeks when I struggle to figure out what to write. How dare any of them leave me!
I’m happy to report that losing ideas doesn’t bother me nearly as much any more. Looking back at all of the blogs I’ve written, and considering that when I first started a few years ago I thought I would be completely out of ideas after about eight, I’m starting to trust the process more.
Let It Flow
I’ve come to accept on a more general level that I will likely have at least ten times more “great ideas” than I will ever see to fruition. I’m good with that.
Author, Elizabeth Gilbert, rings in my head. In her book Big Magic, she writes about creative ideas having a life of their own. She describes them bouncing from person to person, just waiting to see who will take the opportunity to manifest them. If I don’t act on what comes to me, the Great Idea will just go bounce to someone else and they will produce it in their voice.
Be Subversive, Not Greedy
I don’t need to be greedy and hog up all of the ideas anyway. There will always be more ideas. Besides, sometimes it’s fascinating to read or see someone else bring that idea to fruition in a way I hadn’t thought of. I love reminders of our interconnectedness as a human family. We are so much more interesting together than any one of us is alone.
There’s a counter-cultural subversion to this process that I find deeply satisfying. It neatly minces at least 4 common concepts:
- The myth of scarcity. (There are plenty of ideas out there. If we panic and go into Sympathetic Nervous System overdrive, they run away from us as our neocortex’s fall asleep.)
- The illusion of individualism. (The synergy people create together far outstrips anything we can generate on our own.)
- The demand that we constantly compete for an imagined supremacy based on a myth of hierarchy. (There is no hierarchy of humans. We each have valuable, unique contributions that feed everyone.)
- The fierce focus on product over process, which is fueled by performance-based acceptance – another toxic myth I’m happy to expunge.
Flowing With Life
U.S. culture tends to demand product, and to evaluate our worth as beings by what we produce. Both writing and therapy make it obvious that the “getting there” is worth more than the magical destination we imagine.
Have a “great idea?” Flow with it, if you have the spoons for it. Let it go if you don’t. If you start to follow it and get distracted, or something else is a better use of your time and creative energy, shift! There is no virtue in seeing something you aren’t invested in to its end, as long as you haven’t made commitments to anyone over it.
No step along the way is ever wasted. You really never know how those experiences will fold into your future. Every single thing we do along the way is an abundant teacher, even when it’s not teaching us what we set out to learn.
Artists of all kinds, (writers, fine artists, musicians, actors, culinary artists and so forth,) are continually encouraged to give themselves permission to create truly awful crap. The idea is that if we just keep creating and creating, practicing the process, we will generate ideas that our critical brains would have otherwise edited out. Our fears push us to eliminate possibilities before they’ve even matured.
When we take the editor out of the creative process until we’ve expressed all of the possibilities we can come up with, we generate a lot more material. Some of it turns out to be wonderful! Some of the less wonderful stuff leads us to other wonderful stuff we would have missed entirely if we hadn’t created the less wonderful.
All of it teaches us. None of it is wasted. Ever.
As in Art, So it is in Life
And so it is in all parts of our lives. If we refuse to judge and edit our ideas, our feelings, our beliefs, our “growing edges,” we will have free access to the transformative and subversive powers that lie in the process itself.
Let’s be less consumed with the things we think we’re building. Those things can crumble in an instant. Our outcomes are nearly always vulnerable to the choices of others. What would happen if we stopped being so consumed with how our projects, dreams and ideas end, and instead, let ourselves flow with whatever part of it we are doing right now?
Remember that quote from Ron Klein last week? “A failure is an outcome who’s value you have not yet perceived.” Whether the process we are in ends up how we expected it to or not, the flow of our pursuit is loaded with value. Don’t let destination-focus cheat you out of any of it.
Friends, some of those “learnings” are brutal, confusing and hard to flow with. Don’t go it alone. Contact Tiffany today. Let’s see what we can figure out together.