My favorite musician is singer/songwriter Bob Schneider. He is eclectic, musical, lyrical, insightful, deep, and fun. He’s a rock n roll, country, hip hop, singer songwriter who has been off and on writing a musical with curse word title. Bob has become famous for running the Song Game. Each week Bob emails out a word or phrase to all the musician’s playing the game. Each songwriter has to send back a song they’ve written incorporating the word or phrase by Friday. The point of the game isn’t to tun out hits, it is simply keep them writing and creating. The only rule is that if you don’t submit your song by Friday, you are out of the game. No exceptions. Participants have included Charlie Mars, Patty Griffin, Jason Mraz, and more. It’s fun to see how different artists have written completely different songs with the same prompt. Here is Piggback by Billy Harvey and Piggyback by Bob Schneider.
A friend suggested that this is a great lesson for so many of us who get paralyzed by needing to have good ideas, solutions, events, or strategies before we share them. I think academia encourages this kind of perfection where we only share ideas we are sure about, only try things that we know will work, or only make comments that we know will be well received. How many brilliant ideas don’t make it to the light of day because we’re not sure of them or not sure how they will be received. I’ve often described myself as a recovering perfectionist. I constantly work to ask myself, “When is good enough, good enough?”
Only a couple of weeks ago, I spent 45 minutes looking for the perfect picture for a blog post. Totally unnecessary. I’ve also agonizing over titles for blogs and written several in my head that just aren’t “good enough” to publish. Learning is hard, but unlearning is even harder.
One of the things that I have learned over the past five years as my staff has gotten more experimental and adventurous is that some of our best ideas as we sit in a conference room are terrible when we implement them. Similarly, some of the ideas that we go with even though no one loves them because we can’t come up with something better, have turned out to be some of the absolute best things we have done. Celebrating both these successes and failures has encouraged us to generate more ideas and not be too attached to any of them.
So here’s to generating ideas – bad ideas, good ideas, absurd ideas, unusual ideas, silly ideas, brilliant ideas, strange ideas, unconventional ideas, just more ideas. And here’s to sharing them!
And if an idea fails, quote Jed Bartlett, “What’s next?”