You’re making dinner, and the water comes to a boil so you pour in the pasta. After a few minutes, it’s time to check it. So what do you do? Well if you’re in a restaurant like the one I used to work in, you pull some out and with casual optimism toss it against the side of the oven next to you and see if it sticks. If it sticks, that’s great and then it’s almost time to eat!
But what if it doesn’t stick? What if it sticks only half way, and the other half is flapping around? What if it sticks for only a second, moving slightly, struggling against gravity like a wet noodle vertical slinky, eventually falling off. Then it needs more time, so you go back to the pot, give it a few more minutes, a few more stirs, and soon enough it’s done.
What if you were too cautious to throw that pasta against the side of the oven to see if it was done? Or, what if you were too worried to recognize it wasn’t done yet and needed to be put back in? Or worst case scenario, it’s over cooked and not what you expected or wanted it to be and you either start over or make it work. Either way, you’re still going to eat, so essentially there is nothing to be afraid of, right?
What if we treated ideas with that same mentality? That same purposeful ease that we treat spaghetti with? My guess is you would get a lot of great ideas no matter how cooked they are. Fear or insecurity causes a lot of great ideas to be left in the pot, waiting for their chance to see if they are sticky enough to make an impression or even be ready to use.
Several times in the past few months, I have witnessed the “pasta” being pulled out of the pot and being thrown against the side of the oven, and the truth is all of them stuck. Some were hurled haphazardly with the thought that there was absolutely no way that idea would stick…and somehow, some part of it did. Not only did some or all of them stick, but nearly all of them lead to other great ideas. How great is that?!
I recall recently one idea in particular was pitched jokingly through the air, not even destined for the side of the oven, because it was thought to not be at all ready or useful. But in the present company of non-judgmental peers, up it went anyways. Wouldn’t you know that despite that initial perception that it was useless or just a joke, part of it stuck while the other part slid down a ways: close, but not quite ready so “back in” it goes. A few minutes later, it came back out and much to our surprise – it wasn’t spaghetti anymore, it was rigatoni! The idea changed, it morphed between tastings to become a fantastic idea that also led to more great ideas and even found a place into the design.
All gratuitous pasta puns aside, the point is no matter if you think the idea is done or ready to be taken out, do it anyways and throw it against the side of the oven. There isn’t anything to be lost, nothing to be wasted and in fact the exact opposite. What seems like even the most unready idea may still be that, but that doesn’t mean it can’t turn into a great idea, and the only shame would be to be too afraid to take it out and leaving it in the pot to burn.
Take out those ideas and heave them into the air or against the side of the oven – great things will happen, I promise!