• Akhila Balasubramaniam

Inspiration and ideas require respect

Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic"

Photo by Dollar Gill


Often I'm reminded that ideas have a life of their own. We don't create them; they come to us.


Liz Gilbert describes them as individual entities, that partner with humans to create something. A song, movie, poetry, choreography, startup, initiative.


The idea chooses the artist. Familiar with the feeling when an idea comes to you? You want to drop everything else and pursue it with full spirit.


If that's so, why do we sometimes lose steam midway?



There are two possibilities:


  1. Ideation is glamorous. It glosses over the rigour and monotony that comes later. But when it's time to take action, we don’t “feel” like it. Our moods overpower our commitments.

  2. In other cases, external hindrances, usually unavoidable, interrupt our flow. Maybe we have to address other financial, family-related commitments before you resume the work. We tell our ideas to wait for us, that we'll be back.



Sadly, sometimes we forget to come back.



Will you be okay to stay locked up in a box for months together if a colleague puts you on hold in the middle of a project you started passionately? What if you were left hanging in a relationship and your partner moves on but forgets to break up with you? Our ideas are no different.



This is why sometimes when we resume it after a while, the spark is lost. It feels like trying to revive something dead. The idea has left us and moved on.



Many of my grand plans have found other collaborators. I've let complacency, lack of focus, indiscipline, and the ever famous fear, get the better of me. When I see others accomplish what once envisioned, I feel guilty and bitter.



Like humans, ideas expect respect and commitment. Sure, they understand if the wait is short, but beyond a reasonable point, they're going to move on. They'll find other qualified and more willing collaborators. This is why someone else executes an idea that you once conceived but didn't execute. Feels like they stole your thoughts. The truth is, you let it go.



Nevertheless, we can't entertain every idea that knocks on our door. When an idea arrives while we're engrossed in other projects, we may have to respectfully let it go. They understand and appreciate when it's put across respectfully. No one likes to wait indefinitely. Moreover, it's empowering to make that choice. It spares us from guilt and shame.



Let's treat ideas as we would treat our human colleagues (hopefully that's with respect). Let strong commitments not be fictional. Create more to attract more ideas.


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