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Stop & VanGogh – Innovation & Creativity in the Ordinary

Creativity is often about putting a new twist on an old theme.

And it therefore can occur in the most obvious and often simplest of places.

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I saw this sign at the side of a small mountain road.

sign-1-227x300.jpgDSC02503.JPGBrilliant, eh?

You have to chuckle.

And just the day before, when I checked into the Rustic Inn, I did a double take as I passed their hotel van.

van-2-300x227.jpgPretttty funny.  Someone’s got some wit.  What’s more, the hotel went with it.

In both of these situations — the WHOA stop sign and the VanGO pun — a spirit of joy, innovation, and creativity comes shining through.  And, what is important to remember is not just that someone had a cool idea.  Someone also took action.

The moment we have the insight (“Wouldn’t it be funny/cool/amazing if…”) we have to move.  We have to write it down; get out the supplies; plan the day when we’ll do that thing.  Otherwise, like water through a sieve, the concept is gone.

We go check our email. We reach for the remote. And a tiny part of us dies.

We squash the impulse for fear we won’t pull it off or it will be dumb or not worth the effort. Instead, we have to put down our wine, get up off the couch, and go find paper and pen with which to record the creative impulse.

We have to push back the covers, turn on the light squinting against the sting of brightness, and scrawl down our thought.  We have to turn to someone we trust and say, “I know this sounds crazy but I have a cool idea.” Avoiding any kind of action, however, is a loss to the world.

“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor.
It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. 
Don’t cheat us of your contribution.
Give us what you’ve got.” 

— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

And, when someone comes to YOU with a creative idea, you need to listen.

Credit goes to the Rustic Inn for putting that on their vans. To the owners of the land and the county in Wyoming who let that WHOA sign go up. To anyone who encourages you in your creative efforts. And to you, for anytime you encourage someone else.

The great poet Emily Dickinson wrote, “Not by appointment do we meet delight.”

Start delighting your world.

At work. At home. For yourself.

Every great innovator did. Concretize one small idea of innocuous delight. If you start making your ideas real, even in the tiniest of ways, you might just delight your world.  

And the action doesn’t have to be gigantic in order to deliver joy or have impact.

Just look at the images above.

Now go make your own.

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