Recently, I made a proposal to my employer for a new program that could potentially reap huge rewards long term. I was very excited. I did a ton of research, consulted with industry experts, assembled the appropriate documentation, crafted a solid pitch, and set the meeting. I told a lot of people about my plan. It seemed like a slam dunk — a real win for my team, and at almost zero cost to start. I took it all the way to the top brass.
They declined it.
Thank you, but no. Not a “good fit.” No immediate gain. Hard to quantify the ROI. We can’t spare the resources. (I never asked for any, remember?)
I won’t lie, I was disappointed and a little heartbroken. A few days later, someone close to me asked how my meeting went and I gave him the news. He said, “Sorry dude, but another path will open because you took this step. Energy like this will find a way as long as you stay motivated.”
He’s right, you know. Energy always finds a way. It cannot be blocked if it doesn’t want to be. Like a river funneling down a gorge, it will go around rocks, over and under logs, jump the banks. It can’t be stopped. Somehow, it will find a way.
He then added, “Good will come from that, man. I promise.”
You see, creative energy begets creative energy. It is easy to view our creative wellspring as a finite resource, that, once used, is gone forever. But that is simply not true. Just like our bodies grow stronger when placed under load, the act of creating generates new creative power. This is how musicians, painters, dancers, writers, and technologists can continually reinvent themselves for decades.
Understanding this, I discovered I was now oddly optimistic, even relieved. Sure, I wished they’d accepted my proposal — it would have been a really fun program that would have benefited a lot of people. But it didn’t matter anymore that they rejected it. What mattered is I had put something out into the world. As Seth Godin puts it, I shipped. I took the step.
I have no idea how, where, or when the creative energy I put out there will manifest itself. Could be tomorrow, or a year from now, or in another lifetime. It could come back around to me directly, or to a neighbor, or someone I don’t know halfway around the world.
But good will come from that. I promise.