The Patience Principle

Sometimes, working through new ideas and giving them clarity is an exhausting process. It takes work, and it doesn’t always go the way you hope.

I’m working on some ideas right now that are, well, still foggy. I’d like very much to say that my Three Words have become as apparent to me as Jon’s or Chris’ or Sue’s. But they haven’t. And so, I’m sitting on them until they do.

It would be nice if the process of creating something always stuck to our preconceived notions of time and progress. For instance, I’d hoped that by the beginning of 2010, I’d have my path set out with clarity and resolve, and proudly state all of my intentions and goals and objectives at the start of the new year.

But in reality, January 1 is an arbitrary date. My creativity doesn’t care that it’s January 1, it just knows that whatever I’m noodling on isn’t fully baked yet. Progress is messy. And my first instinct was to beat myself up a bit because I didn’t have a beautiful illustration, laid out in front of me, when “everyone else” did. That somehow, my ideas or concepts must be much less valid because I couldn’t yet find the perfect way to frame them.

Upon reflection, I think perhaps I need to be a bit patient with myself.

I know the threads to tie it all together are rattling around in here somewhere. I have some glimmers of clarity from time to time, and the big pieces are there. I’m going to ask for help from some friends that I think can help get me out of the rut, and who think a bit less linear than I do. I’m going to persevere, because I believe that progressive creativity is as much about tenacity as it is sudden inspiration. And because I know some people believe in me.

So if things aren’t clear for you yet, that’s okay. Keep after it. Put it down for a while and let it simmer. Resolve to stay the course, but when frustration hits, take a step back.

In fact, have a seat over here if you like. I’m still thinking, too.

image by Brian Hillegas

  • http://www.lisalarter.com Lisa Larter

    Amber, Happy New Year and congratulations on once again writing something many of us can relate to.

    What I love about your post is the art of patience and seeking help and support.

    So many others get lost in analysis/paralysis or they get into the it’s not perfect enough trap.

    Your outlook is refreshing, and is one I can relate to. It also is a gentle reminder for me to exercise patience for myself too.

  • http://www.lisalarter.com Lisa Larter

    Amber, Happy New Year and congratulations on once again writing something many of us can relate to.

    What I love about your post is the art of patience and seeking help and support.

    So many others get lost in analysis/paralysis or they get into the it’s not perfect enough trap.

    Your outlook is refreshing, and is one I can relate to. It also is a gentle reminder for me to exercise patience for myself too.

  • http://www.obsessedwithconformity.com Jim Mitchem

    I tried finding a link to Felton’s Toolbox (referenced in Luke Sullivan’s ‘Hey Whipple Squeeze This’) but failed. Anyway, creative thinking is as much strategy as it is ‘creative’ to me. Felton said there are stages of strategy that lead to creativity – basically goes something like this: Brainstorm, Incubate, Wait…. There are other steps too, but those are the ones that matter most to me and it’s served me well. The trick is to be able to walk away from the problem and understand that patience (which you mention here) is part of the process. Of course there’s always the prospect of forgetting altogether – but that rarely happens. ;)
    .-= Jim Mitchem´s last blog ..Social Media by the Numbers =-.

  • http://www.obsessedwithconformity.com Jim Mitchem

    I tried finding a link to Felton’s Toolbox (referenced in Luke Sullivan’s ‘Hey Whipple Squeeze This’) but failed. Anyway, creative thinking is as much strategy as it is ‘creative’ to me. Felton said there are stages of strategy that lead to creativity – basically goes something like this: Brainstorm, Incubate, Wait…. There are other steps too, but those are the ones that matter most to me and it’s served me well. The trick is to be able to walk away from the problem and understand that patience (which you mention here) is part of the process. Of course there’s always the prospect of forgetting altogether – but that rarely happens. ;)
    .-= Jim Mitchem´s last blog ..Social Media by the Numbers =-.

  • Roberto Martinez

    Amber Happy New Year and nice blog post. New ideas as everything need some time to mature, frustation is part of that process and two techniques that I use to accelerate that are: 1. Thinking out loud, it help to clear your vision 2. Talk to someone else that you know is not all the way positive neither negative all the time. And your ideas will flow smoothly. Ultimately you will never know if your ideas will have an effect or not until you try them. So this new year, good luck with them.
    .-= Roberto Martinez´s last blog ..Today is appreciation day!! =-.

  • Roberto Martinez

    Amber Happy New Year and nice blog post. New ideas as everything need some time to mature, frustation is part of that process and two techniques that I use to accelerate that are: 1. Thinking out loud, it help to clear your vision 2. Talk to someone else that you know is not all the way positive neither negative all the time. And your ideas will flow smoothly. Ultimately you will never know if your ideas will have an effect or not until you try them. So this new year, good luck with them.
    .-= Roberto Martinez´s last blog ..Today is appreciation day!! =-.

  • http://http//thoughtbythought.net Tresha Thorsen

    Right back atcha gal…who says though that the process need be linear for you tidied up in 3 words or a plan? You are birthing and mothering a life work ….a ‘life’ work…hello….it’s gonna be unfolding and clarifying itself and at best will have seasons and phases of focused chunks…(kindergarten years, primary school, elementary, middle, etc)Take it from someone who spent 10 years engaged in a profession she thought had to have x, y, z for the outcome and then even years later after learning the reality of fluidity and unfoldment, engaged in yet another 20 month focus that had to have p, d, q be the outcome and it wasn’t.
    Um. gentle hug and hand holding…..the outcome isn’t per se what matters only..the focus is and the doing.
    You know as clear as you sit here you have identifiable doable outcomes. Claim those, nurture those, ‘mommy’ those if you will. The broader bigger in scope ones should they need to evolve (and will, you’re a gal of vision) will evolve…because you’re intending them right now just by feelings.
    I keep learning from you and that means whatever you’re focused on is impacting many. :) and which means you’ve already nailed the most important of all: believing and trusting…YOU :) Hugs for all you outpour…may it keep on a flowin…in it’s array of color and fluidity of form :)

  • http://jorge.threefivesup.com Jorge

    Happy New Year Amber. I myself have been through those processes a while too. I started 2009 feeling like that where nothing was still clear to me and the best thing to do is wait. I grew frustrated about that and that slowed me down a lot, but by October of last year I had cleared up my ideas and plans for the future so I started them silently and announced most of them in the last days of the year or yesterday….it appears as great timing but it’s not it’s just that we tend to announce those things at this time. January 1st is not important for that, let any day be your January 1st. I myself still need to think for goals for this year.

    Asking for help and talking about goals and projects it’s the best way to clear them up. Patience is a word that we should put up on our ceilings (on top of our beds) so we can remember to have it everyday.
    .-= Jorge´s last blog ..Bye Bye 2000s =-.

  • http://jorge.threefivesup.com Jorge

    Happy New Year Amber. I myself have been through those processes a while too. I started 2009 feeling like that where nothing was still clear to me and the best thing to do is wait. I grew frustrated about that and that slowed me down a lot, but by October of last year I had cleared up my ideas and plans for the future so I started them silently and announced most of them in the last days of the year or yesterday….it appears as great timing but it’s not it’s just that we tend to announce those things at this time. January 1st is not important for that, let any day be your January 1st. I myself still need to think for goals for this year.

    Asking for help and talking about goals and projects it’s the best way to clear them up. Patience is a word that we should put up on our ceilings (on top of our beds) so we can remember to have it everyday.
    .-= Jorge´s last blog ..Bye Bye 2000s =-.

  • http://wordswillsaveme.wordpress.com Teresa Basich

    Yes, be patient with yourself. And yep, reach out to the people who will get your creativity flowing the way you want it to. What I find funny is that we (people, collectively) put expectations on a part of ourselves that flourishes without expectation.

    All in due time, A. We know your ideas will come together in beautiful, perfect Amber form when they’re ready to. Try to enjoy the process. :)
    .-= Teresa Basich´s last blog ..In Loving Memory, One Year Later =-.

  • http://wordswillsaveme.wordpress.com Teresa Basich

    Yes, be patient with yourself. And yep, reach out to the people who will get your creativity flowing the way you want it to. What I find funny is that we (people, collectively) put expectations on a part of ourselves that flourishes without expectation.

    All in due time, A. We know your ideas will come together in beautiful, perfect Amber form when they’re ready to. Try to enjoy the process. :)
    .-= Teresa Basich´s last blog ..In Loving Memory, One Year Later =-.

  • http://donfperkins.blogspot.com Don F Perkins

    Hi Amber

    It’s refreshing to hear the humanity behind your work. There’s a lot of people out there blathering on about how easy it is to blog and create this huge throng of happy followers hanging on your every word. I’ve heard experts say that a new entry needs to appear at least once or twice a week on your blog so that followers stay interested. No doubt this has resulted in some less than spectacular posts on occasion as people try and crank out something exciting to read when they really don’t have anything exciting to say!

    So take your time. It’s not about volume. It’s about content. I’m not going to go into a coma if you don’t write for a few weeks. One request though? (to bloggers everywhere) If you don’t have anything really relevant to say, button it until you do. Experts be damned!

    Don F Perkins
    .-= Don F Perkins´s last blog ..Enhancing Intercommunication by Practicing Empathy =-.

  • http://donfperkins.blogspot.com Don F Perkins

    Hi Amber

    It’s refreshing to hear the humanity behind your work. There’s a lot of people out there blathering on about how easy it is to blog and create this huge throng of happy followers hanging on your every word. I’ve heard experts say that a new entry needs to appear at least once or twice a week on your blog so that followers stay interested. No doubt this has resulted in some less than spectacular posts on occasion as people try and crank out something exciting to read when they really don’t have anything exciting to say!

    So take your time. It’s not about volume. It’s about content. I’m not going to go into a coma if you don’t write for a few weeks. One request though? (to bloggers everywhere) If you don’t have anything really relevant to say, button it until you do. Experts be damned!

    Don F Perkins
    .-= Don F Perkins´s last blog ..Enhancing Intercommunication by Practicing Empathy =-.

  • http://cops2point0.com Christa M. Miller

    Amber, no joke, I spent the entire last year in this frame of mind. Reading and absorbing and processing and applying… analyzing, looking at all the pieces that had fallen into place and trying to figure out how they all fit together…

    When they finally did, I spent a few weeks being a bit disgusted with myself that I hadn’t seen it sooner. I knew the whole idea could not have been fully formed before it was ready. But I had the additional pressures of being self-employed while my husband was not employed at all.

    I found it really interesting that Tresha used a “birth” metaphor because I have been thinking about that all along, especially these last few months, which felt emotionally like active labor! (Excitement turning to serious work turning to utter certainty that I couldn’t do it anymore and I was too tired and just wanted it to STOP ALREADY…)

    Anyway, I’m taking a break from my website redesign to comment and say thanks for affirming my experience. I’m not ready to announce yet, and I certainly don’t have anything distilled into 3 words (though perhaps it would be good discipline for me to do that…). But what you just said happened for me too. Not rushing things has led to a solid idea that folks believe in.

    I can’t wait to see what comes of your thinking!
    .-= Christa M. Miller´s last blog ..Presenting to community groups? Share! =-.

  • http://cops2point0.com Christa M. Miller

    Amber, no joke, I spent the entire last year in this frame of mind. Reading and absorbing and processing and applying… analyzing, looking at all the pieces that had fallen into place and trying to figure out how they all fit together…

    When they finally did, I spent a few weeks being a bit disgusted with myself that I hadn’t seen it sooner. I knew the whole idea could not have been fully formed before it was ready. But I had the additional pressures of being self-employed while my husband was not employed at all.

    I found it really interesting that Tresha used a “birth” metaphor because I have been thinking about that all along, especially these last few months, which felt emotionally like active labor! (Excitement turning to serious work turning to utter certainty that I couldn’t do it anymore and I was too tired and just wanted it to STOP ALREADY…)

    Anyway, I’m taking a break from my website redesign to comment and say thanks for affirming my experience. I’m not ready to announce yet, and I certainly don’t have anything distilled into 3 words (though perhaps it would be good discipline for me to do that…). But what you just said happened for me too. Not rushing things has led to a solid idea that folks believe in.

    I can’t wait to see what comes of your thinking!
    .-= Christa M. Miller´s last blog ..Presenting to community groups? Share! =-.

  • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

    Hi Amber,

    I had to smile as I read this, because your post goes directly to one of my three words for 2010 (and, no, that post isn’t written yet either). It’s incubate, and the concept of letting ideas take form before I rush off and take action.

    So incubate your ideas well, and I look forward to seeing where you end up.

  • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

    Hi Amber,

    I had to smile as I read this, because your post goes directly to one of my three words for 2010 (and, no, that post isn’t written yet either). It’s incubate, and the concept of letting ideas take form before I rush off and take action.

    So incubate your ideas well, and I look forward to seeing where you end up.

  • Barry Dalton

    Amber,
    Don’t fret. You’re right on target. Ideas that are time box (like against the turning page of the calendar) tend to end up half baked. And the only way usually to claim success is if your measure is ‘something by some date’

    Best point you raised? Ideas don’t come in bolts of lightening. They need initiation, development and incubation. All the great insight here, put it together, and it outlines a formal ideation process. Ideas need a process. The process is not just reserved forcorporate ideation.

    Lastly, the process needs to be tempered so it’s not used as a crutch for moving forward; afraiding to fail. If your idea success rate is 100%, your probably not making a loy of progress.

    Best line I’ve hear in a long time on this subject? From the Disney movie “Meet the Robinsons” – “you failed! And it was Awesome! Keep moving forward”

    happy new year and go for it!
    .-= Barry Dalton´s last blog ..Be more =-.

    • Barry Dalton

      Sorry for the typos. Commenting via iPhone – bad

  • Barry Dalton

    Amber,
    Don’t fret. You’re right on target. Ideas that are time box (like against the turning page of the calendar) tend to end up half baked. And the only way usually to claim success is if your measure is ‘something by some date’

    Best point you raised? Ideas don’t come in bolts of lightening. They need initiation, development and incubation. All the great insight here, put it together, and it outlines a formal ideation process. Ideas need a process. The process is not just reserved forcorporate ideation.

    Lastly, the process needs to be tempered so it’s not used as a crutch for moving forward; afraiding to fail. If your idea success rate is 100%, your probably not making a loy of progress.

    Best line I’ve hear in a long time on this subject? From the Disney movie “Meet the Robinsons” – “you failed! And it was Awesome! Keep moving forward”

    happy new year and go for it!
    .-= Barry Dalton´s last blog ..Be more =-.

    • Barry Dalton

      Sorry for the typos. Commenting via iPhone – bad

  • http://jimyesthatjim.com Jim Ryan

    Boy howdy, do I understand what you’re saying here! If I ever figure out how to chase down an idea in my head and fully pin it down and flesh it out instantly, that will be a happy day indeed! Heck, most of the time if I ever want to try to get something done I have to trick my brain into thinking I’ve already started doing it by skipping to the second step. Still not quite sure how that works — I have a feeling it’s not supposed to. Ah well, life’s mysteries and all. :)

    Excellent post!
    .-= Jim Ryan´s last blog ..A Quick Status Update =-.

  • http://jimyesthatjim.com Jim Ryan

    Boy howdy, do I understand what you’re saying here! If I ever figure out how to chase down an idea in my head and fully pin it down and flesh it out instantly, that will be a happy day indeed! Heck, most of the time if I ever want to try to get something done I have to trick my brain into thinking I’ve already started doing it by skipping to the second step. Still not quite sure how that works — I have a feeling it’s not supposed to. Ah well, life’s mysteries and all. :)

    Excellent post!
    .-= Jim Ryan´s last blog ..A Quick Status Update =-.

  • Marilyn Urban

    Hi Amber,
    Very insightful. The first thing my art teacher told me in high school was “patience is a virtue”. It stuck with me.
    I am on a journey of change. Not sure how, not sure where, just sure that I am on the journey.A journey that was not of my choosing. This is not simply a creative idea for marketing a client, but a life changing reinvention of myself. I have come to the conclusion that I must be open to all possibilities and not rush things (which is not my nature). I am also a linear thinker and like things done and neatly tied with a bow as they have been up until now. After all, I am an art director! I will not resist or force this change, but be patient, stop the chatter in my head and let the answer come. I will go with the flow. My direction may come from anywhere and when I least expect it, so I am keeping my mind and eyes wide open.

  • Marilyn Urban

    Hi Amber,
    Very insightful. The first thing my art teacher told me in high school was “patience is a virtue”. It stuck with me.
    I am on a journey of change. Not sure how, not sure where, just sure that I am on the journey.A journey that was not of my choosing. This is not simply a creative idea for marketing a client, but a life changing reinvention of myself. I have come to the conclusion that I must be open to all possibilities and not rush things (which is not my nature). I am also a linear thinker and like things done and neatly tied with a bow as they have been up until now. After all, I am an art director! I will not resist or force this change, but be patient, stop the chatter in my head and let the answer come. I will go with the flow. My direction may come from anywhere and when I least expect it, so I am keeping my mind and eyes wide open.

  • http://beerwithbranson.com Bugsy

    I strongly believe in following your motivation to where it leads me and not going where the motivation needs me. By that I mean I work RIGHT NOW on whatever is moving me at the time. Never waste positivity energy on a non-productive activity. If I’m motivated to do a blog entry at 3am I need to do it then, there is no guarantee that motivation will be there the next day, or that something else won’t come up to distract me.

    So far it’s worked. I gave up my New Year’s eve celebration to I could launch my resolution Web site on New Year’s Day, but rarely do my own ambitious have a specific deadline.

    In the end, I can’t force myself to be motivated from 8am-5pm. My best ideas usually come well after sunset.

  • http://beerwithbranson.com Bugsy

    I strongly believe in following your motivation to where it leads me and not going where the motivation needs me. By that I mean I work RIGHT NOW on whatever is moving me at the time. Never waste positivity energy on a non-productive activity. If I’m motivated to do a blog entry at 3am I need to do it then, there is no guarantee that motivation will be there the next day, or that something else won’t come up to distract me.

    So far it’s worked. I gave up my New Year’s eve celebration to I could launch my resolution Web site on New Year’s Day, but rarely do my own ambitious have a specific deadline.

    In the end, I can’t force myself to be motivated from 8am-5pm. My best ideas usually come well after sunset.

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