The enemy

Every story needs an antagonist. Superman has Lex Luthor. Ahab has Moby. Interesting has fear.

There’s a story about now-well-respected academic and cultural visionary Marshall McLuhan. Maybe it’s apocryphal, but the gist is that one of his books was rejected for publication because it contained too much “new thinking.” Too much. New thinking.

Think about that.

The publisher felt that readers wouldn’t get it. He/she was protecting the public’s, and his/her, collective comfort zones from thinking that might upset common previously held conceptions. But to be frank, he/she was afraid. Of looking foolish. Of poor sales. Of not getting promoted. Of who knows what? The book was eventually published and, well, Marshall McLuhan is now Marshall McLuhan. In the end, fear lost. Curiosity won.

Are all new ideas, good ideas? No. That’s what trash cans are for: the respectful dispatching of the weak. Knowing the difference between good and bad ideas and the appropriate-ness of the remaining ‘group of goods’ are the skills we spend the better portion of our day and our careers honing. Ask the trash cans, they’ve seen it first hand.

Even with all of that, the final obstacles a good idea often needs to face are fear and its best-buddy-from-college, reluctance. What fear feels, reluctance will endorse, because they go way back and went to some great parties together.

But we’ve all got a powerful tool at our disposal: intuition. It’s not always the loudest talker, but if you listen, it’s there and if there’s one thing intuition understands, it’s creativity. Fear can’t stand intuition. Or ultimately, stand in its way.