In business it’s a constantly repeated mantra: “Think OUTSIDE the BOX.” There is one fact that many don’t seem to grasp: the road to original ideas is not direct. Finding a location such as “outside the box” cannot be accomplished with a GPS. It’s off the grid–much like traveling a dirt road, encountering and taking detours, and keeping your fingers crossed that you’ll know when you’ve arrived at the right place.
For anyone who wants to do a TED talk, create a corporate speech or even write a book that is FULL OF ORIGINAL IDEAS, this is vital information.
Someone called me after he’d seen his accountant friend–one of my former clients–speak, and he wanted speaking coaching. It impressed and surprised him that his normally straight-laced friend achieved laughs, tears, and even a standing ovation. Did I mention the speaker is a CPA? Now his friend wanted to achieve the same goal–to speak and cause the audience to fall in love with him. I signed him up.
At our first meeting, he left disappointed as he thought his entire speech would come together at that first meeting. After we ended the hour Skype session with some rough ideas, he asked, “Is this working?”
What ISN’T working – with more work – WILL. Be suspicious of things that are too good to be true. Newsflash: It takes MORE than “7 Days to Write your Best Seller,” way more than “5 Hours to Lose Weight” and it may NEVER happen that you “Find God and Peace over Breakfast.”
If you are to create something that will blow people’s socks off, you have to put in TIME and accept that the creative process is MESSY.
The journey to SUCCESS is littered with trial and error. The first pass is like putting on your underwear. Nobody has to see it unless you want them to. Once you’re covered, you get to address the next layer. The fun begins when you cut, improve and refine. Failing is a friendly tool, letting you know something needs to be fixed. We have to be willing to toss out material the way we get rid of other trash. Did I just lose the HOARDERS?
Look at it this way: A baby takes 9 months, and that doesn’t include your 5 years of diets, bad choices, and that Jack Daniels, “Let’s do shooters!” year.
As Michelangelo said, “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” I would have advised him to take another pass at those sentences, lose some of the words and maybe get it down to, “I get rid of what’s there that’s not needed.” Too bad Michelangelo wasn’t my client; I could have made him a success.
I urge clients NOT TO RUSH, but to give themselves room and time to find the story that will motivate, a message that will inspire, and jokes to keep everyone awake. What matters most is NOT the idea, but HOW you present it.
My job as a coach is to help you find your never-existed-before-in-time idea, explore it and turn it on its head to see it from all angles while you hold onto your faith in yourself and in your message.
When you put in the right amount of work, it WILL appear to have been effortless.
Here are 5 simple tips to help you become a better writer:
1. Try writing at 4 AM. It’s easier to write when your critic is asleep. You will have access to the hidden gold in your subconscious.
2. Write inappropriate stuff. There will be time to edit and censor yourself, but filtering out ideas in the beginning will also filter out the gold.
3. If you get stuck – write lists starting with the Top 10 Reasons Writing Sucks. Lists are not just for David Letterman.
4. Cover your computer screen while you write. Not seeing what you are writing will keep you from judging it as you go.
5. Set your iPhone timer and keep writing until it goes off. The difference between pros and amateurs is that the pros keep going even when they don’t want to.