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Too many bricks, not enough mortar.

bricks

A couple of years ago I was going to set up my own business. I got my website sorted out, business cards printed, but then… nothing happened. I’d concentrated on style over substance.

It’s not bricks that hold a house together, it’s the mortar.* Otherwise, it’s a pile of bricks.┬áThere seems to be an assumption that if you’re given a bunch of money or are part of a new organization, then you need to create something from scratch. Instead of focusing on connecting people and adding value, there’s thrashing about creating a new community, a new website, new artefacts. Let’s create more bricks!

Right now, more than ever, it’s mortar time. It’s time to stick the bricks together to build something.

Get busy!

Image CC BY-NC-SA lovestruck.

* Granted, there’s lots of examples of dry stone walls in Northumberland (where I live). But that takes a lot of organization, co-ordination and centralised re-shaping of existing organizations. Work with me… :-p

Creativity: confusing inputs with outputs.

Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby something new is created which has some kind of value. What counts as “new” may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs. What counts as “valuable” is similarly defined in a variety of ways. (Wikipedia)

I’ve noticed increasingly ‘creativity’ being somehow equated with thea use of bright colours. Whilst it’s true that inspirational environments can stimulate people, I doubt sincerely that a lick of paint can transform a space into a ‘creative’ one. This is because of the fallacy of confusing inputs with outputs.

People do this all the time, equating fame, success, good looks, talent, and ultimately creativity with acting a certain way, using a certain thing, or wearing particular items. Given that outputs are usually visible and tangible, this is understandable – but still wrong-headed. Instead of finding out what type of laptop someone uses, the type of pencil they prefer or favourite restaurant, we should be seeking the answers to different questions. Such as:

  • What do you always have close to hand when writing/designing/talking?
  • Which are your favourite blogs/books/podcasts?
  • Who influences you?
  • When did you realise that [xyz]?
  • How do you organise your thoughts?
  • Where do you do your best thinking?

Try finding out the answers these questions – ask people directly if you have to! Note their positive habits. Merely aping their setup and outputs deals with the latter, but not the all-important inputs. :-p

You are what you habitually do.

I’m not alone in taking a book/my Amazon Kindle to the doctors/dentists/airport or somewhere else we’ve come to expect delays.

But what about other times? What about queues? What about unexpected delays?

Howard Rheingold, a bit of a hero of mine, tweeted this yesterday:

I try to see underheads ahead of me in line who fumble for their checkooks, change, as opportunities for mindfulness in the moment …so when I am delayed by circumstances beyond my control, I try to ask myself what I might not be noticing in my environment.

Instead of seeing unexpected delays as being the result of some malevolent ethereal force it’s a much better plan to have an idea of what can fill that time. Some suggestions:

  • People-watching (why do people do what they do?)
  • Writing down/expanding upon thoughts in a notebook
  • Talking to other people (i.e. practising striking-up conversation)
  • Pattern-spotting (how many x are there? what does that remind me of?)

Why not checking email/Twitter/other technological things?

You are what you habitually do. (Aristotle)

I’m aiming to become more creative, aware of my surroundings and reflective. Are you?

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