Read: The Dance of the Possible

I’ve just consumed Scott Berkun’s newest book, The Dance of the Possible. As promised by the author, it was a short book intended so that we can get what we can out of it, get it out of the way, and dive into actually creating something. It was divided into three parts — each of which I consumed in one sitting of around an hour. You can breeze through it in less, but I liked reflecting on points raised by the author and recalling experiences where I can relate them (or could have related to them).

If I were to describe the 3 different parts of the book, I’d say part one is about the generating ideas. Part two is when you’re already developing your ideas. And part three is when it’s getting extra challenging to keep going and you need that extra boost.

He captures in writing some of the things I personally go through in my own creative process which made me just virtually nod in agreement and think “Oh yeah, that was what I was doing!” And I guess in making me aware, I could be more intentional in applying them and accepting when I feel like I’ve hit some sort of slump (that I will get over, of course).

I’ve long been intending to read a book on creativity (among many other things). Having Scott’s book come along with the invitation to do a book review really pushed me. When he described one of the seven sources of fuel for why people create the things they do (i.e., “Deliberately put yourself in situations where you have no way out but through.”), I couldn’t help being amused and thinking “Yeah, that happened!” I think even without the book review aspect, I’d have enjoyed reading his book as I’ve enjoyed some of his other writings. It just adds another dimension and it feels like it’s full circle because the book on creativity actually prompted me to create!

[Edit: Same content is posted as an Amazon book review over here.]

Reads: The Myth of Epiphany

The myth of epiphany is that great ideas dawn upon you in an a-ha moment. Take for example the popular story of an apple falling on Newton’s head when he discovered gravity or Archimedes’ eureka moment in the bathtub. But what those stories seem to miss out is the significant amount of work that they’ve poured into solving related problems, and that it’s only when they took a break and let their minds wander that the answer came to them. We mustn’t overlook that there is work that leads up to those a-ha moments. There is a period of incubation where we try to digest the information that we’ve observed as we work on things, and our brains are catching up with all that’s been observed. Then if we’re lucky, the answer or the great idea comes to us at an instance that seems so out of the blue that it makes for a good story.

One quote from Ted Hoff (inventor of the first microprocessor, Intel’s 4004) said it best:

“… If you’re always waiting for that wonderful breakthrough, it’s probably never going to happen. Instead, what you have to do is keep working on things. If you find something that looks good, follow through with it.”

The Myth of Epiphany is from a chapter in Scott Berkun’s book, The Myths of Innovation.

Scott Berkun’s Mindfire

Scott Berkun released a new book recently entitled Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds. It’s a collection of essays some of which were from his blog. He made it available for download for free for 48 hours; with the only catch being you’ll have to sign up to his monthly mailing list. Upon finding out about it, I went ahead and downloaded a copy. There’s still 15 hours and some more minutes to go and download.

For starters, I like the title of the book.  Mindfire.  I can so tie it up to one of my favorite quotes (yes, just because it has the words mind and fire in it): “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch. I read the first essay this morning. It was something I’ve already read from his blog but didn’t mind rereading because it was one of the posts I liked from his blog. Cult of Busy. I remember how I set my chat status to “Busy” by default. Initially, I didn’t get what that status was for. Wasn’t everyone supposed to be working on what they’re supposed to be working on ergo busy should be the default? Are those who are on “Available for chat” idle? As I went along, available or busy didn’t make any difference. If folks had something to ask, they just went right ahead. Anyway, I’ve digressed.

Back to the essay… I like how the it echoes (much nicely) my disdain for being busy as an ideal state. Say, dudes A and B were working on the same stuff. A slacks off, works carelessly, and then does overtime for rework and to compensate. B works efficiently finishing the task ahead of time, giving him time to go over some tech blogs that he follows. From some perspective, A would probably appear busy while B is slacking off; and A might even get rewarded, while B goes unrewarded and gets more tasks dumped onto him. Sucks.

Taxi has arrived. Got to cut this short. But do check out Scott Berkun’s writing. This post does not do him justice.