Give your inner critic a hall pass: Janet Echelman on using imagination and trusting your gut to fuel your own epic adventures.

Janet Echelman‘s TED Talk on taking imagination seriously was a brilliant piece of serendipity for me when I discovered it in 2012, and worth sharing as a tool for adventure divas struggling with doubt.

Having been rejected by seven different art schools after graduation, Janet forged out to become an artist on her own terms. That faith in herself was eventually rewarded with a Fulbright scholarship, and a trip to India. The loss of her art tools enroute led to an accidental discovery that changed her life, and saw her heading up the development of entirely new concepts and programs in architecture, engineering and art.

She shares her journey in this 10 1/2 minute TED Talk, and went on to elaborate on the value of taking imagination seriously in a subsequent article that appeared in the Huffington Post. I found this little snippet full of wisdom and power:

When developing an idea, I remind myself not to start with compromise. I envision the ideal manifestation of the idea, as if I had no limits in resources, materials, or permission. I’ve learned there’s a cost to eliminating options too soon, as some might be more viable than they initially appear.

In early design phases, I try to give my “inner critic” a hall pass to get lost for a while, and that goes for external critics as well. When ideas are young and vulnerable, criticism can be lethal.

I try to imagine my goal as a reality, and then work backwards to figure out all the steps I need to take to make it so. I look to the examples of people who accomplished unimaginable changes. Sometimes, I try to imagine how Gandhi must have felt as he set off on the Salt March, somehow believing his footsteps could change nations. He was able to hold the final vision in his mind, and understand each step needed to make it reality. We all have the potential to do that, but it’s a skill that takes practice.

Janet Echelman -TED 2011
You can see more of Janet’s beautiful sculptures at her web site, and learn more about how her willing “suspension of disbelief” has turned magical brainstorming into something larger than life:

http://www.echelman.com/

 

Sue

 

%d bloggers like this: