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 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 Gozer scene in Ghostbusters:
A little confidence goes a long way. About thirteen years ago, the largest news outlet in the country interviewed me. Their article dubbed me as the world record holder of wearing nametags. I laughed out loud. Forget about running the four minute mile, this was a real accomplishment. I had officially arrived. And even though the world record holder of wearing nametags wasn’t exactly what I was going for, it sounded credible and interesting and memorable. And since I was just starting my career, I took my credibility where I could get it. So I embraced it. I began including that moniker in my marketing materials and bio. And it just stuck. That’s what I became known for. And the strange part is, people never tired to prove me wrong. Because when you focus on something nobody else has bothered to think about, there’s no competition. It’s virgin territory. When you create a category where you define the rules and set all the standards, you catch a foothold and slide into pole position. And so, I ultimately became the world record of wearing nametags, not because there was a sanctioning body to legitimize my achievement, but because I told people that I was. Confidently. Over and over. And they believed me. It’s funny how that works. When somebody asks you if you’re a god, and you say yes, nobody questions you. But when you buckle under the pressure, fumbling to articulate your answer, everybody smells the fear. How might you persevere and extend your confidence?
I had a big imagination, and wanted to put it to work. Vonnegut once said that the triumph of most things is a matter of organization. I agree. But I also think that the failure of most things is a matter of imagination. It’s our lack of creativity that hinders success. And unless we began taking charge of how we use our brains, we’ll never achieve it. Maisel’s work on brainstorms has been transformative for me. He taught me not to spend time in my brain as if the brain were a destination, but to use my brain in the service of the work I intend to accomplish. For example, when I’m practicing yoga, I have a tendency to put the pedal to the metal inside my head. Every thought and idea plan and problem comes thrashing to the surface at once. In fact, I’m almost shocked at just how many thoughts can run through my head at any given moment. Now, most yoga instructors would tell me to focus on the breath, stay in the present and let my thoughts come and go like passing clouds in the sky. But as an experiment, I recently tried a the reverse approach. Instead of attempting to force calm my mind, I started wondering to myself, how could I channel my thoughts into something more meaningful? And so, I started running creative visualizations. During class, I would use my imagination to build a story in my head. A mental movie with pictures and sounds and smells and other sensations associated with reaching a particular goal. And I would hold that fantasy until class was over. The experience was blissful. As a result of biting into the visualization, I was able to drown out the chatter of my mind. By tuning into the exciting movie I’d created for myself, I experienced a completely different kind of relaxation. To what extent could you let you brain race, but still be in control of it?
Terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought. Gozer initially appears as a woman, but her voice echoes that the destructor will follow, taking a form chosen by the team. So that’s their challenge. Don’t think of anything yet. Clear your mind. Because they only get one chance at this. But’s too late. The choice has been made. The traveler has come. Ray couldn’t help himself. It just popped in there. He tried to think. He inadvertently recalled a beloved corporate mascot from his childhood. Something that could never, ever possibly destroy them. And the hundred foot marshmallow man begins attacking the city. It’s a classic case of ironic process theory. Harvard cognitive scientists defined this as the psychological process whereby deliberate attempts to suppress certain thoughts make them more likely to surface in one's thoughts. For example, don’t think of a white bear. Now, what are you thinking about? Of course. A white bear. That’s ironic process theory. But the good new is, the researchers found that individuals do have a capacity to successfully suppress thoughts. Not by trying not to think, but by focusing on a specifically prepared distraction or object. It’s a process in thought suppression experiments referred to as focused distraction. Wegner explains that picking and focusing on an absorbing distractor, like a car from your childhood, helps avoid unwanted thoughts. And if you allow yourself to think in controlled ways on and around the thing that you want to avoid, he says, then it will be less likely to pop back into your thoughts at other times. Which thought might release the peddle on your racing brain?
What did you learn from this movie clip?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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