Abramović, the grandmother of performance art, famously said anything that is revolutionary is in front of your nose and is never complicated, but you don’t see it until you have a safe mind.
Then question, then, is how do we acquire a safe mind? What can we do to make ourselves more amenable to the innovative possibilities that surround us?
Simple. Go backwards. Work by process of elimination. Recognize and remove the influences that inhibit the process. Because it’s not the ideas we don’t have that block our thinking, it’s the ideas we do have.
Debono calls these concept prisons, which are traditional fixed ideas that prevent us from looking at something in a new way.
Here’s an example. Years ago a writer friend of mine converted his intellectual property into a robust software program that he sold for big bucks. When I first watched his demo, I became insanely jealous. Not just because of the money he made, but because of the medium he used. After all, my goal as a writer has always been to use as many disciplines and forms of media as possible to circulate my views and communicate my message. Even if I have to invent whole new ways of doing so.
And so, seeing that piece of software planted an seed in my head. I thought to myself, that’s what I need to do. Turn my intellectual property into a web application. Awesome. The only problem was, in my mind, the word software meant something that was big and complex and robust and expensive. And that scared me. To the point that I never even attempted executing the project. The task was simply too daunting.
That word, then, software, was the concept prison holding me back. The fixed idea that prevented me from seeing the possibilities. Debono famously said that the natural tendency of the mind is to remain within the security of the rigid patterns it sets up. And that ideas only occur in those able to escape the rigidity of words and classifications.
He was right. I was stuck.
But to my surprise, nearly ten years later, I revisited the idea of creating that software program. And a developer friend of mine said something that helped me break out of that prison.
What if, he suggested, instead of building out your whole comprehensive system all at once, you created a series of simple, single serving applications, each of which did one thing?
Huh. Building a family of inexpensive software solutions on a piecemeal basis. What a concept. And yet, that never would have occurred to me. Because didn’t have a safe mind. I was too locked into my own definitions of the word software to think that way.
Proving, that we’re more often blocked by the ideas we already have.
By the way, check out Junkie Software to see the fruits of this conceptual labor.
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