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Share: Ideation Process {part 3}

This fall I have been sharing experiences from the Creative Courage Retreat in which I participated in mid-August. This post carries on from Share: Ideation Process {part 1} and Share: Ideation Process {part 2}, or How I Came to Find Myself Doing Something Big.

To recap: We each listed one idea per sticky note until we each had a wall-full of ideas; then we collaborated with one another by adding ideas to one another's walls.

The way the retreat was organized, our collaboration session took place in the evening. Overnight, our ideas percolated or marinated or chilled as we slept. In the morning we came together in a sort of design lab where we each built a prototype, a visual representation of our overall challenge. Among the prototypes created by group members were paper sculptures, collages (or vision maps!), a mobile and a balance scale, all unique illustrations of our various challenges. 

Actions & Risks

In the session that followed prototyping, we turned back to our collection of ideas on sticky notes. We looked at each idea as a potential action step framed as an "experiment," a list of actions to test out as opposed to a to-do list. We sorted these experiments into risk categories: "low risk," "medium risk," and "high risk."

Risk photo

[risknoun 1. exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance: It's not worth the risk.

As I sorted my ideas/experiments, I began to realize how few ideas I was marking as "high risk" actions. Most of the actions I can take toward meeting my challenge are "low risk," and, what's more, every idea I listed as "high risk" involves monetary investment ... and each of those investments would only come into play if I were to follow through with a bells-and-whistles version of my original plan to self-publish the book I am writing.


(Granted, the ideas on my list have very little direct impact on my family. I'm not talking about meeting my challenge through drastic measures. Rather, my actions are incremental steps that move me in the direction of completing my project.)

Looking at each individual action step and considering its risk level helped me discover that what I'm feeling is actually vulnerability rather than risk and fear. In her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Liz Gilbert talks about how we tend to attach unrealistically high stakes to our endeavors. Her message throughout the book pretty much echoes Nike's "Just do it."

And that's where I'm at now. For the past two months, I have been continually adding sticky notes to my binder full of action experiments and project notes. (A peek into my binder is still on deck for a future post!) I've been removing sticky notes, too, as I experiment with actions that are leading me down the path I've chosen for the coming months. It's an ongoing process of experimentation and discovery!

What project feels risky and overwhelming to you? What happens when you break the project into bite-sized pieces and imagine yourself eating each piece, one small bit at a time? You're invited to share your thoughts and dreams here on the blog or over on the facebook community page, and I look forward to learning what's in your heart!

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