When I was a kid, one of my good friends was Steve Reid. Steve later went on to be a successful musician in Memphis, Tennessee, though he passed away unexpectedly two years ago. We lost touch over the years but thankfully reconnected before he left this earth.
As a working musician, Steve certainly knew how to keep going despite failure. We never talked about it, but I know the life of a musician is hard–constantly hustling to get the gigs, to make a living, to keep the vibe going.
I used to be a picky eater. I still have control issues along those lines. Recently, when the fam thought Arby’s sounded good for supper, I decided to just go with the flow and try a sandwich I’ve had my eye on. I usually will be really specific about what I want on a sandwich (“hold the pickles, add mayo,” etc.), but I decided this time, what the heck, just get the Loaded Italian sandwich, and get it the way it comes.
I really liked it, even with banana peppers on it (which I’ve always assumed I didn’t like).
You can’t force creativity, but you can remove the roadblocks.
At the risk of sounding like an old fart (because, after all, I am one): I believe I have noticed a decrease in the ability of incoming students to think outside the pigeon hole. I don’t think students are any less intelligent, but I do think it is one of the unintended side effects of “No Child Left Untested” foisted on the American public in a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to improve public education.
I don’t want to trot down that side path right now. Regardless of the cause, I am sure I see students struggling to think creatively. You might struggle as well.
James Altucher has really had an impact in the last few years with his books, his blogs, his videos, etc. His core ideas are contained in Choose Yourself. I want to encourage you particularly to apply one of them he advocates for exercising your “idea muscle” that I have started calling the Ten List.
The Ten List is part of his four-part system he calls The Daily Practice–or, actually, a technique that addresses the Mental part of the four. So it’s not particularly about speaking or writing, but I have found it to be really useful for both.
There is some standard advice you hear offered to writers of every type and sort. “Don’t write unless you have to,” or “If you can not write, don’t.” The idea seems to be that writing is so hard that you shouldn’t do it unless you feel a compulsion to do so, or else that unless you feel that sort of compulsion, you will never achieve any level of skill.
My students are just finishing an assignment. I asked them to write down 10 possible topics for an informative speech every day for a week (well, five days out of seven). In other words, they would wind up with 50 possible topics.
Earlier today, my computer was acting weird, so I decided to reboot it. Rather than simply restarting it, though, I shut it all the way down.
This is probably the first time it has been completely shut down in a month. I’m one of those folks who tends to just shut the lid and let it hibernate so that it’s instantly available when I need it, and since it’s a Macbook, it can be weeks before some software glitch causes enough of a problem to make me reboot compared to having to do that two or three times a day sometimes on a Windows machine (although I’m not really trying to restart that debate).