Ideational Inventory

Or don’t always change just because you can

One aspect of the blessing and the curse that comes along with being a creative outlier is you can literally think of new paths and projects every day if not every moment, and to be sure, this is a gift. Or at least it can be a gift but sometimes you can create more ideation inventory than you can deal with. Just as painters, potters and sculptors can pile up more works than they can sell, especially earlier in their career before they generate a strong reputation. Well, the problem is they run out of space. Wall space and shelf space are not infinite. Photographers and Musicians can store large piles of projects in less space, but their gear can take up a lot of space.

I am speaking of a slightly different problem, for although we do not run out of space per se in our heads, something my father assured me when I was around four. I had just asked him when I was going to have to stop reading books because there would not be enough room in my brain for them to fit. He used this as an excuse to explain to me the concept of infinity. My mother said then she knew she was in trouble because even though this was her first child, she did not think too many four-year-olds would be so excited about the concept of infinity. 

Okay, so we do not run out of space in our heads, but we do run out of the ability to act upon an infinite set of accumulated ideas. And here is the problem, you can be puttering or cursing along, it does not matter which, and you are making progress and, in general, doing something useful that is on your preferred path and which you know, to be the right thing to do., when you decide to change course just because you can.

This is the curse side of the gifted blessing, especially if you are self-employed or even self-unemployed. The problem is you hate to leave or abandon all of those unused ideas, but in order to address them, you have to stop doing what you know to be a perfectly sensible and reasonable path. You can be driving toward the finish line to the applause of your friends, family, and other stakeholders and become enamored of one of your other way too many ideas. Enamored is okay as long as you have the discipline to say, “Hey, that is a good idea, but I do not have time for it right now”.

But what happens when the ideational inventory has become a literal warehouse of ideas? What do you do with them? Go on an idea diet to stop having new ideas? So you may not have run out of “wall space,” but you may have run out of ability to act upon any significant portion of your ideational inventory, and that is a dangerous time if you are already on track and a track that mind you, may have taken a very long time to get on. This can be a real dilemma if you are so used to chaining directions just because you can.

Even infinite ideation inventory is not such a good thing for in general, most creative outers lack the resources to address this inventory. Captains of industry and presidents of countries have the same problem. Even they do not have the resources to address their own ideation inventory, so you are not alone.

Just thought I would bring that up; when you are tempted not to stay the course, you have lovingly designed and deployed due o the shiny object syndrome, which suggests the new idea is better this the old one because it is new and you had it. If every year you come up with more ideas than are actionable, eventually, your ideational inventory can get humungous and out of control. This is like when kids who like cake get old enough to buy more cake than they can eat. You can get a stomach ache that way.

Sometimes we can get an ideational inventory ache, but if things are going well, do not change direction just because you can!