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🦊 Stop Waiting for the Ripe Idea
QBF #50 — With every moment that passes, the ready ones grow stale.
Welcome to Quick Brown Fox #50 — the Golden jubilee edition! 🎉 I’m Salman, and in this newsletter I share essays, art and ideas with you in the spirit of learning in public. Every week, we’ll practice playing with creativity, building self-awareness, and embrace our inner polymath. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this journey. Here’s to many more editions to come!
It’s been a fun week full of momentum, kicked off on Monday when I joined a Write of Passage live session led by David Perell. I first attended a WOP cohort a little over a year ago — the program kickstarted my writing journey, starting with the launch of this newsletter! Since then, I’ve sat in on sessions whenever I can. The community energy is wonderful, and it’s also great to revisit David’s invaluable lessons on writing online. Monday’s session was about choosing topics to write about. After more than a year of writing, I saw old lessons in a new light. It was really fun to share my own perspectives on the material in the chat with the current cohort of students. I was able to participate both as a viewer and a contributor to the session.
David challenged me to go further, and take the lessons I was sharing in chat and turn them into an article. So I did! And in record time 😊 I spent Tuesday writing up a draft and getting some quick feedback from my pal Nate Kadlac. By Wednesday, I had edited and polished the post, illustrated a comic to go along with it, and published it! 🎉 I don’t usually push myself to try and get things out quickly, but it’s fun and exciting to challenge myself now and then. When we test our limits, we gain energy from the knowledge of what we’re capable of. We surprise ourselves in the process — as if we’re meeting a version of ourself we forgot existed. It’s helpful to have that reminder every so often.
The most challenging part was focusing the piece on a single idea — I had a lot of different ideas about the process of choosing ideas 😅 I wrote them out in an outline, and started writing a draft. I let the draft take me wherever it wanted to, and when I looked back at it, it had narrowed down my options to two main directions. I asked myself, “Of all the things that can be said about this, what is the one thing I really want to say?” That’s what led me to settle on the trap of waiting for the perfect idea. I tend to analyze things a lot, and so the advice I would need as a writer isn’t how to analyze ideas more — it’s how to escape analysis paralysis and ship ideas. I wanted to warn other writers like myself about the allure of perfection, and the need to pick without being too picky.
Enjoy the essay, and have a wonderful week!
If you prefer, you can read this essay on my blog.
Stop Waiting for the Ripe Idea
Deciding when to share an idea is a lot like picking fruit.
A farmer will look at a fruit’s color, shape, and texture as signals of their ripeness. They have a unique challenge — they must predict how a fruit will taste, without ever tasting it.
How do they do it? They taste and experiment, they try and fail. With each harvest, they cut the growth of crops and feed the growth of skills. The turning seasons create a cycle of learning.
As creators, we try to follow the example of farmers. We tend to our digital garden of ideas, waiting for them to ripen. We nurture, feed, and protect them. Over time, we learn to judge the readiness of ideas the same way we might the ripeness of fruit.
But our judgement grows faster than our taste. We measure the first fruits we produce with the ruler of a farmer who has harvested a thousand crops. When left to run its course, our quickness to judge ourselves leads to our creative demise.
We haven’t tasted enough to know what tastes good, but we police ourselves as though we do. With gritted teeth and anxious anticipation, we brace for the perfect idea: a flawless fruit that will be delivered to us. Some day, somehow, it will appear before us like a revelation.
We stand still, perpetually waiting.
But an idea doesn’t need to be perfect in order to be ready.
Every day, consumers eat fruit which isn’t perfectly ripe. They do so because it is the fruit in the hand today, far tastier and more filling than the promise of a perfect fruit tomorrow. As creators, we mustn’t be so picky that our consumers go hungry.
An idea lives to be shared, yet it does not die when we share it. Like fruit, an idea scatters itself in the garden of our collective minds. It lives on, enriching the soil and multiplying into the fruits of tomorrow’s ideas.
Stop waiting for the ripe idea. With every moment that passes, the ready ones grow stale.
Small, Big Wins [Podcast - 76 mins] — I was hosted by Harsh on his podcast, and we embarked on a fun and wide-ranging discussion on the polymath approach to life, embracing serendipity, and lessons I’ve learned on creativity, writing and more.
How To Tell Compelling Stories [Video, 2 mins] — I loved this short video from David Perell on the storytelling lessons he learned from Dave Chappelle. My key takeaway: “You don’t need to go fast to keep people captivated.”
Your Body Is Your Subconscious Mind [Book Notes] — I really enjoyed this short, enjoyable and enlightening audiobook exploring the connection between the mind and the body. It's a collection of recordings from lectures and interviews with Dr. Candace Part. In my short journey of listening to her, I went from never having heard of her to falling in love with her grace, curiosity and skill as a scientist and teacher, and finally being overwhelmed with sorrow as I discovered she passed away in 2013. How strange it is, the world we live in, where we can virtually meet and miss someone who lived entirely in our past, all in a matter of minutes. (P.S. I don’t usually share rough notes like this, but if you found it useful, let me know!)
A couple of reminders of upcoming events:
The Future of Cities [Clubhouse Event, March 20th @ 11AM PST] — I’m excited to host Drew Austin (author of the Kneeling Bus newsletter) for a chat about urbanization and the future of cities on Clubhouse.
Café con Luis: The Future Belongs to Polymaths [Webinar, March 30th @ 11AM EST] — I’ll be hosted by Luis Giraldo, where I’ll be sharing lessons I’ve learned in embracing my inner polymath, and how the approach can help future-proof your career.
I’ll leave you with a quick thought on liberating your creativity:
Give yourself permission…
To write words no one will read,
To draw pictures no one will see,
To make things no one will touch
Creativity has many goals. Consumption is only one of them.
Until next time,