I spent the week in Knoxville, TN last week. Not for anything writing related, but definitely for something creativity related. I took my daughter (and her team of six seventh-graders) to compete in the Global Finals of Destination Imagination
. Destination Imagination is hard to describe. It’s a creative problem solving competition. It’s a place where smart/creative kids can be as smart and creative as they want without ever having to feel like they should hold back.
I don’t know about you, but somewhere along the lines in my life I internalized the hold back message. Be smart, but not too smart. Be successful, but not too successful. We don’t want to make other people feel bad about themselves. I remember many times growing up being told not to do something as well as I could have because of how it would reflect on others around me who couldn’t. Now I’m not saying I’m so great either. I’m sure there are plenty of people who can do plenty of things better than me. All I’m saying is that they should be able to. How I handle it is up to me. It’s not the other person’s responsiblity to dumb themselves down to make me feel better.
Here, I’ll bring it around to writing. When I read a book that is better than what I can write it might make me feel a little jealous or wistful, but I don’t think, “This shouldn’t have been published because it’s making all of us lesser writers feel bad.” It’s an inspiration. I want to get that good. If we never see what greatness is, how will we ever aspire to it?
You know how many kids were at Global Finals? 12,000. And that’s just a small portion of the number of kids who competed throughout the year. How great to know that that many people in the next generation are growing up knowing they should work to their full potential.
If you are interested in this topic, I recommend the book The Big Leap. It’s about several things that can hold us back from success, but this holding back is a big one.