Seeds from a Growth Manifesto

In Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, he had 43 statements that exemplified his beliefs, strategies, and motivations. Here are my top three favorite ones, and why:

1. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

In the past months, I have gotten messy with clay, crayons, paper, ping pong balls, and other things that do not have a screen. It. Felt. Good. Nothing allows you to fail, and fail happily, more than immersing yourself in children’s toys, mundane objects, and again, things that do not need to be plugged in. Play-doh will not judge you.

2. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

At home, I still work on a PC. This has elicited a lot of snickers from the Mac-worshipping design crowd. But it is a very well-traveled PC that has served me well in three continents, thank you very much. And it has never crashed on me. (It shouldn’t―there is no PC genius bar guy to come to my aid.) It has also been on my side when I’ve published poetry, designed my own books, exhibited art, published my journalism bylines, documented my taekwondo progress, and planned my next incarnation in another heretofore-unexplored-part of the world. I hope you’ve done something interesting with your Macs.

Kidding aside, I do believe that there is something profoundly broken when one is incapacitated without technology. Creativity is not dictated by our instruments. We are more than our gadgets, and the day that we all unwittingly enslave ourselves to them is the day that human creativity dies and we become replaceable.

3. Remember.  Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

In the movie, Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays Eddie, a writer who takes a pill that allowed him to access all of his brain, giving him a profoundly clear view of his world. To solve a problem at hand, he could, with lighting speed, recall bits and pieces of memories that would be useful for crucial moments. In a way, this almost is a metaphor for human creativity; we take old ideas and combine them to produce something new and relevant to that particular point in time.

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