An idea has dropped into your head. A good one. One that has you quite excited.
In my experience however these rarely come in fully formed. They are seeds…quite raw and in need of refinement, of sketching out batting around and playing with. The key word here is “play.”
I would also add the word curiosity. If you can approach the fleshing out of an idea with curious play then your process becomes so much lighter and comes from a place that is much closer to your soul.
I’m going to ask you an incredibly important question now. What were you curious about as a tween (6-12 years old)? When your mum called you in for dinner what were you likely to be absorbed in doing? As an adult are you still doing a version of that? And are you happy in what you are spending the bulk of your time doing as an adult? Are you still curious?
I ask this because I solidly believe that our most precious gifts we have to bring to the world becomes clearly manifest during our tween years. At this stage we are pretty competent but most importantly we really really really don’t give a poo about what others think. We just rock our own level of awesome. The thread of what we loved doing at this point is an important thing to think back on because it is the truth of what lit you up before the world got to have an opinion on it. Usually it is the raw need to conform and fit in during our teen years that does it the most amount of damage. I see tweendom as this time almost in paradise where a child is in a protective bubble of I don’t give a crap just playing in a playground of their own design.
At some point most tweens stand up and holding the gift that they are meant to bring into the world and step out into teendom. This is the equivalent of an 8 lane superhighway, with an over culture that can be like barreling semi trucks with advertising messages down the side. Our job as a teen is to safely navigate getting to the otherside with our gift /curiosity intact.
Some of us are more successful at it that others. Some completely drop their gift dive to safety and then spend a long time trying to figure out what went wrong. I know because this is what happened to me. I took my gift lofted it into the air and jumped like a jackrabbit through that traffic to get to the other side frazzled, battered, and gasping for breath. It took me several years to remember that I had started across that road carrying something incredibly precious.
So now I bring you back to your idea. How close would you say is this idea to what fascinated you as a tween? Is it somehow thematically similar? For example as a kid I was found photographing, drawing, playing a cello, and writing short stories. After my harrowing journey through adolescence and still liking my wounds I decided that becoming a nurse would be a smart thing to do. The more years I worked doing something that kept me from my gifts the sadder and more hollowed out I became. So my twenties and early thirties were spent getting the courage together to go back out and rescue my gift. Once I did, I started to get my mojo back. Instead of dry…my ideas felt luscious moist full of promise. But there were glimpses of it even in my nursing years. At one stage I ran a breastfeeding photography competition. This was one of the most memorable things I did as a Lactation Consultant which should have told me something.
So what does this have to do with developing ideas that stick? Every freaking thing! Does the idea excite you? Does it feel like it has a heart beat? Does it thematically relate to something you are quite curious about? Did you enjoy doing a version of it when you were a tween? Do your fingers get itchy to get started working on it? If so…then you are on the right track and it is probably an idea worth developing.
The Why Game:
With any project that you develop it is most important that you get down to what the theme of it is? What is the purpose for you to give this to the world. When you unearth this you can then drive the idea forward much more effectively.
So what does this have to do with fleshing out ideas? Everything. It is most important that you are deeply curious about the work that you are doing. And ultimately why you are doing it. It is the why that will see you through what Seth Godin defines as the dip. This is the part of the work where everything goes pear shaped. And it will, but you must have enough committed curiosity that you will not drop the idea at this point. But will see it through. So defining why you are making this thing, what greater world purpose does it serve is a really important question to have answered at the start.
So back to the why game.
It is a game where you ask yourself 7 levels of why. It looks a bit like this.
- I want to photograph women painted in gold. Okay cool…why?
- Because it is pretty and sparkly. Okay…why do you want the women to look pretty and sparkly?
- Because that will show how special they are. Okay…why will the sparkle make them special?
- Because it will visually reinforce that every one of their bodies are treasures. Okay why is it important to you to showcase that everybody is a treasure?
- Because too many women are coming to my studio at war with parts of their body talking cruely about themselves. Okay…why does it upset you that women are cruel to their bodies?
- Because I was cruel to mine and I learned not to be and I have gotten my energy back because of it. Okay…then why is it important to you that other women get their energy back?
- Because the world needs their gifts to heal.
See how that works. I just went from superficial I want things to be sparkely and pretty to actually I really believe that women regaining their creative mojo is the key to helping the world heal. That is the heartbeat why of my project. It is even deeper than simply body positivity. I got there chasing my whys. Now every time I jump through the hoops necessary to make this project come to life I am doing it knowing that there is a potential at least in my head that by a woman doing it it might help free her from the shackles of self abuse and return to her enough energy where she will be able to bring more of her gift to the world. I can work tirelessly on that goal. Sparkles would have lost their novelty.
So what is the why in your work? You could try journaling as I just did and see what you get to. Or work with someone you trust and have them help you get to your why by asking the questions. It is usually the 7th layer that allows you to really see what the core of the project is about for you. As you are the one that is committing to the project it is crucial that you understand why you are doing it.
If you want to know more I am giving a talk in a week or so about all of this but in much greater depth and I take you from idea all the way down to manifestation and talk about the things that can trip you up along the way and how to avoid them. Click on the picture below if you want to know more.