Taming a Wild Idea, Step One

One of the most challenging aspects to taming a wild idea is moving it from the ever-so-tasty place where you can love it from a distance to diving in to make it real.

There’s something truly delicious about allowing grand ideas to stay wild. They’re always perfect when they live in the edges of our imaginations. They can dance there, sparkling and undulating, and we never have to worry about discovering that they have really bad breath. Or unclipped toenails. Or that they actually have the rhythm of a particularly ungraceful warthog.

It is so tempting to leave them there so we don’t find their flaws.

It’s like that moment we fall in love with someone, and are in what psychologists call the ‘liminal phase.’ Everything about them glows, our hearts pitter, and it seems impossible that they might have halitosis or gnarly feet or a complete an utter inability to dance.

Landing on that imperfection can be so disappointing. We have such a desire, us imperfect little humans, to attain perfection. Bump up against it. Make it.

A Pox Upon Perfection

I have a present for you. (And it hurts to type this, because I love the fantasy of perfection as much as the next person.)


It ain’t happening. We aren’t perfect. We aren’t going to dream a perfect wild idea into being. Perfection is a dream itself, but it dissipates when it hits air. And sunlight.

But that’s really, truly, seriously okay.

Because perfection isn’t interesting. It isn’t real. It doesn’t breathe and move and make things change. It hardly  ever makes jokes.

Our marvelously foolish imperfect wild ideas are dreamt – and made – by our marvelously foolish, imperfect, wild selves.

When we get caught up in needing ourselves and our ideas to be perfect, we shut ourselves down. We shut the ideas down. We become caught in the stasis of never being good enough. I think and talk a lot about believing that all things are possible. I so believe this. But one of the very few ways I’ve found that we can get locked into not being able to find that possibility is to convince ourselves that if it isn’t perfect, it isn’t worth doing.

Loving on The Flaws

So, here’s the next step: Are you still finding your way into a wild idea? Are you in to in and finding the steps of the tango with your wild idea warthog? Wherever you are in the process, I invite you to find the delight in a thing that is the least perfect part of your wild idea. (Or one of them.) Take it out. Look at it. Dance with it. Let it step on your feet. Give it a breath mint.

But love on it. Celebrate its weird quirky flaws and faults and bits of ugliness.

Two amazing things happen when you do this.

  1. You can break the perfection paralysis that keeps you from actually working on making your wild idea happen.
  2. And you may find that the beauty, energy, and magic you’re seeking actually lies in the stuff you think are its greatest flaws. I had the incredible experience to study with Nobel Poet Laureate Derek Walcott a bunch of years ago. I think his Nobel acceptance speech captures the exquisite power of imperfections, well, pretty perfectly. You can read it here if you’d like.

Would love to hear about the gnarly bits of your wild idea you might be loving on, and how that’s changed your process! Drop a thought in the comments if you’re up for it.