How does one describe the relationship between an idea and their creator?Guy on the Internet?
This tension lies in the recess of my mind ever since I first designed my activity for a youth camp. The abstract ideas in my mind became activities in the flesh. Ideas were no longer vague, but it became testable. This is the nature of being a “creator”, to first craft your idea and turn it into reality for the world to see.
Becoming a product manager recently, this idea has been plaguing my mind. To put it bluntly, product managers on a day-to-day basis are practicing “Ideas Management”. We are the engineer of ideas navigating the entire life cycle from its birth to its death. We debate, create, and iterate on the speculative until it becomes concrete. We listen to an array of ideas and prioritize ruthlessly to ensure that only the crème de la crème of ideas survive.
To protect my sanity as a product manager, we need have a healthy relationship with the ideas create.
The Way We Talk about Ideas
When we speak about the way we relate with ideas, the most common analogy that we often imagine is the inventor and the invention. I often imagine an inventor tinkering away and slaving in the dark until one day he screams in a strong French accent “Eureka! Eureka! My invention is alive!”.
The core idea behind this metaphor is that the creation is the result of the hardwork and the ingenuity of the creator. The creator is solely responsible for the invention, and hence it becomes a direct extension of the person.
When we talk about our ideas, we unknowingly bring metaphorical baggage into our conversation. This has dramatic implications in the way we relate to our ideas.
Implications of Inventor-Invention Metaphor
The first being that all ideas are some forms of extensions of yourself, they are the representations of you but in abstract forms. Hence, if somebody criticizes your ideas, they are criticizing you. This also occurs in the reverse, for you to defend yourself you must defend the ideas. This blurring of the creation and the creator makes it harder to navigate the discussion.
Furthermore, the cost of identifying with your ideas eventually sounds exhausting. Being a product manager bad ideas must be thrown out of the window constantly. If you have the inventor-invention view, that’s like a never-ending nightmare to have a part of you being constantly criticized.
A New Metaphor
So, with all that is going on in my life. I’m trying to formulate a better way to look at the way we discuss about ideas. I’ve no way mastered this relationship, but I get glimmers of how I suspect we should move forward with the conversation of relating with our ideas.
instead of thinking about the Invention-inventor metaphor, I propose an archaeologist-ruin metaphor.
An archaeologist uncovers ancient ruins as they scavenge the eternal desert. They don’t create the ruins, merely uncovering them. Similarly, we don’t actually “create” our ideas, we discover those ideas and slowly unearth their treasures.
This has a few different implications in the way we relate to our ideas. The first being that there is a distinction between the idea and the creator. Since you discovered the idea, the idea is no longer an extension of you, but an entirely separate entity. There is no longer any form of association between you and your ideas.
To present your ideas is akin to an archaeologist presenting his research. The ruins might have differing grades of preservation and findings, some might be momentous, or some might be trash. Yet in all circumstances, it is not the fault of the archaeologist. He/she is merely just unearthing it.
In the same way as creators we don’t create, but we unearth our ideas, and we do our best to discover the gem that it truly is.
We do our best to discover the gem that it is.Joel Loh – Guy from the internet
I find this idea extremely freeing. I’m no longer attached to the ideas I have. I’m merely just the spokesman of the ideas, doing my best to articulate the idea faithfully and accurately. The criticizer has no fear in accusing the ideas, because he is no longer accusing me only the ideas.
Perhaps you are a creator in the same way, a lover of ideas. How do you relate to your ideas?