Despite being part of innumerable creative meetings over the years, I’ve never really stepped back to think about the process and how my role within those meetings has evolved. Creativity is a strange, enigmatic process on its own, but when you get a group of people together to apply it to a problem, it can warp and morph in all sorts of ways.
When I began participating in these shows of collective thought vomiting, I very much stuck to the outside. It’s very intimidating to witness for the first time. And the 20 times after that. It’s not just about ideas; it’s about personalities, politics, and saying stupid things.
Yes, stupid things.
When fragments of thoughts are flying across the table and being scribbled on the whiteboard, it’s the fear of saying something stupid that prevents the really great ideas from coming forth. In the beginning, I’d sit on my ideas for too long, letting the conversation pass me, before I’d eventually swallow them whole and continue my silence.
I would think, “no one is going to like that idea, it’s stupid.”
One day, however, I let a stupid idea out. A few laughs followed, and more ideas began pivoting off that stupid one. Then, even more ideas. Eventually, something great comes out from the darkness, and we have our winner. I followed the conversation backwards and realized it started with something stupid.
I started to let my personality out, sharing more stupid things with the group. My cheesy sense of humor added levity to the meetings, ideas would spawn out of the strangest of places, and I’d find logic and use in the stupid things said by others. Now, all that chaos made sense to me. My creativity, whatever it was, had found a way to the surface.
There are stupid ideas, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable to creating the great ideas. Be brave, be stupid, and open your mouth.