I write a thought piece every month to explore and contemplate the ideas, practices, and things that I believe cultivate creativity, innovative design, and impactful solutions. For too long I think we’ve thought that creativity is one of those traits bestowed on people who have won some part of the genetic lottery. But I believe that creativity can be harvested in a variety of settings and through a variety of different approaches. I don’t think we have to wait for the light bulb to suddenly go off, we can learn how to turn the switch, or break through, with practice.
Breaking through is not a moment in time, but a process. It is an effort and a workload, striving and reaching towards an expansive horizon. It is a long distance run, with both a beautiful path and a stunning finish line.
I first read about Breaking Through in the letters and dialogue between John Steinbeck and the citizen scientist, Ed Ricketts (who greatly influenced the author’s most famous books like Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, and In Dubious Battle). On late nights in the Western Pacific Laboratory on the old Cannery Row, the two thinkers wrestled with the horizon of the human mind. They recognized that the “Break Through” happens on the outer shore where the tidal influences ebb and flow. Or in another analogy that they also used, getting to the “Break Through” is like pulling back layers of an onion, discovering deeper and deeper levels of meaning and understanding.
My work is about that Break Through, guiding people to reach towards the horizon to discover innovations that will lead us to a better future world. In January, I’ll begin publishing a series of workbooks that will help individuals, teams, and organizations on the process of cultivating their own Break Throughs. In each workbook, it becomes clear that arriving at these new layers of solutions starts with one common action: embarking on the journey and proactively taking on the struggle with perseverance.
Breaking Through, or turning on the switch, is nothing short of hard work in the right context, in the right direction, with the right habits. My winter newsletter unpacks several additional starting points and resources for those directions and habits.