Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Moments of Conception 032 -- The Driving Scene from Happy Gilmour

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the backyard scene in Happy Gilmore:

What can we learn?

Develop an appetite for playful experiences. Imagine how many significant ideas, inventions, projects, businesses, even careers, that started out as innocuous little blips. A bet between competitors. A joke between friends. An experiment between colleagues. An absurd idea between you and the bedpost. These are the moments that become fertile playgrounds in which innovation flowers. Our guards are down and our curiosities are up. And that’s the ideal mindset for creativity. The tricky part is making the transition from blip to brilliance. Noticing you’ve stumbled upon something with a high level of movement value, and then taking immediate and massive action upon that. Gilmore dramatically recognizes his moment of conception. It’s the unorthodox swing. And so, he spends the rest of the movie leveraging it. First, as a driving range hustle to make a few extra bucks on the side. Second, as a strategy to pay off his grandmother’s tax debt. Third, as a calling card for his career as a professional athlete. And finally, as a catalyst for the generation of golf enthusiasts. All because he made some stupid backyard bet. How do you give the people around you permission to be playful?

I am an idea, give me money. It’s the ultimate entrepreneurial epiphany. You’re doing something you love, something you’re naturally good at, something you would gladly do for free, and then out of the blue, somebody offers you money to do it. Like, real money. They’re going to cross your palm with silver for being yourself. It’s a pinch me moment. Because you think to yourself, wait, you can get paid for this? I remember the first time an organization asked me what my speaking fee was. That was the first time I’d ever heard that term. Ironically enough, I was speechless. Eventually, though, I gathered the courage to charge the company a whopping hundred dollars. And as soon as I held that first check in my hot little hands, my world changed forever. Just ask any artist or athlete or entrepreneur. It’s the strangest sensation. Physically hold real money that you earned from doing what you love, from being who you are? That’s a transformative moment. But again, only if we allow it to be one. If we shrug the money off like it’s no big deal or we didn’t deserve it or the experience was a fluke, we may never see it again. Besides, you don’t do it for the money, you do it for what the money stands for––that you’re worth it. Are you still playing for free?

The only way to belong is on your own terms. Happy says golf is a stupid sissy game that requires goofy pants and a fat ass. Even when he discovers his unconscious competency to drive one hell of a long ball, he still maintains his position about the sport. Golf, for him, is a means to an end. Money for grandma’s house. That’s it. But after a few months of playing, he has another epiphany. He can succeed on his own terms. Gilmore can still participate in the game without marching in lockstep with its historically rigid and pretentious culture. With his unorthodox swing, overaggressive streak, wild television antics and rockstar fan interactions, he refuses to be swallowed by everybody else’s vision. And in the end, he wins the tournament, gets the girl and saves the house. And as ridiculous as the movie may be, it’s still a story about what’s possible when you trust your own voice and take responsibility for the reverberations. Which certainly beats spending your sacred time living in other people’s worlds and putting your life on hold until somebody stamps your creative passport. Whose permission are you still waiting for?

What's your favorite movie moment of conception?