Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Moments of Conception 045 -- The Bubble Scene from Explorers

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 sphere scene in Explorers:

What can we learn?

Planning is procrastination in disguise. Wolfgang is a scientific genius. The problem is, he’s a planner. A stereotypical ready, aim, fire personality. That’s why he kicks around the landscape for the perfect subject to experiment with. Because he has the scientist hat on. Ben simply presses go. He’s a doer. More of a try, listen, leverage personality. That’s why he initiates the program sequence. Because he has the enthusiast hat on. Even when his friend tells him not to touch anything, he realizes, it’s his dream and he’ll touch if he wants to. Ultimately, it’s his subversion of permission, dislike of delay and spirit of independence that sets the stage for the rest of the film. And so, this scene becomes a case study of how planning is the preventer of progress. It alienates unseen targets, overrides spontaneity and limits your ability to stretch. Like my mentor used to say, the problem with having a plan is, you might hit it. Ben’s productive impatience is exactly what the team needs to get their idea off the ground. Not to mention, into the ground. Are you willing to look bad on the road to immortality?

Keep passion in play. Ben is not a scientific genius. But he is a science fiction enthusiast. Thanks to a late night binge on nerdy movies, it’s his vivid dream of flying over a giant field of electronic circuitry that ultimately inspires the moment of conception. Had he never jumped out of bed in the middle of the night to sketch out the images he saw in his dream, inspiration would have come and go like a feather in the wind. Ben’s sense of vision and wonder and belief and possibility become as important as the circuit board itself. It’s a subtle reminder that talent alone does not guarantee innovation. It’s what we add to talent that makes the greatest difference. If talent was enough, everybody would be successful. But they’re not. Only those who buttress talent with these intangible forces, are. Are you spending time increasing your talent or increasing your character?

Mistakes count as done. This first experiment was, by all accounts, an accident. Ben inadvertently traps his friend inside the sphere and flies him around the city. But when he finally tumbles out, there’s an epiphany. Anything within the sphere experiences no inertia. Meaning, occupants can accelerate and decelerate at fantastic speed without suffering ill effects. And so, the miscalculation of the sphere’s size becomes a blessing in disguise. Proving my theory that most great ideas are the results of experiments, mistakes, accidents, errors or jokes. I’m reminded of a fascinating book called Ideas That Became Big Business. It reveals the origin stories of inventions like chocolate cookies, rubber tires, hot tea, pacemakers, waffle cones, paper towels, maple syrup, penicillin, soap bars and stainless steel. What do they all have in common? Accidents. They were all mistakes that become big business. Hell, my entire career came from something I saw in a trashcan. Do you listen to the way you talk to yourself when you make mistakes?

What did you learn?