Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

To succeed in life, you need two things:
ignorance and confidence.
- Mark Twain

I've been working hard on my own creativity this past year. Challenging myself to think of outrageous and beautiful concepts, to ask what would I could I do if I set aside what I already know.

The result has been several interesting ideas. One - my lab is currently turning into a reality. Others - we've yet to begin. Last week, I was riding in the car in silence when I had an idea so wild that I nearly pulled over to call my mom. I've excitedly told several people who have replied with various shades of

you're insane
smoke another one
let's put you away before you spend any more money. 


And in trying to find creativity, I've been thinking a lot about the process itself. I don't think it's a coincidence that most of my favorite ideas are on the fringes of my area of expertise. It's one of the only ways I don't have the voice inside my head saying no, no, no, that is ridiculous, that won't work.

Ignorance need not be negative. Not always. It need not be clueless. It need not be a put-down.

Within the word ignorance is the root ignore. And within the cacophony of thousands of published journal articles and the self-proclaimed expertise of many a conference bloviator (e.g. I've been in this field for 30 years...) comes a plea for silence. For a moment, just a moment, to ignore the weighty wisdom of our forefathers and the guy down the hall.

And suddenly, in the quiet, there is room for something new.

This week, I challenge you to spend time in a silent space and to ask yourself what may be possible.

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