This is the question I’ve been thinking about since we started Acorns On Glen. When did I become such a follower? Not when I was a kid. In fourth grade, in the comments section of my report card, my teacher wrote that I was good at leading other children towards a common goal…..and that I was a good talker. I was an officer in one of my grades in high school….I think it was freshman year. I was editor of my school newspaper for a few years. All signs were pointing in the right direction. I was still a leader in college. I was president of my pledge class at the fraternity. I was a member of the elite summer orientation staff for incoming freshman. Again, all signs were a go. So when, as an adult, did I stop producing original ideas and leadership potential? My vote…..when my sad ass discovered the internet and that damn do-it-yourself television.
Think back to your grandparents. How did your grandmother learn to cook something simple, say a meatloaf? She either learned by word of mouth or she learned by trial and error. The recipe could have been handed down from generations of hard cooking women in her family. She could have talked to a sister or a neighbor about making meatloaf and wrote down the ingredients and instructions that they gave her and then began to cook. She used real, live human interaction versus online social networking. She could have also gotten the idea in her head and cooked it through several different incarnations making sure to tweak things she didn’t like from the time before and remembering to keep things in it that were good. Old time trial and error versus instant internet gratification. With my family, maybe my father, aunts and uncle didn’t like my Grandma’s first shots at meatloaf making, but by the time I was a child, she had perfected her art.
The garden is the same story. How did my Grandmother know to only dig horseradish and grind it up in months that contained an ‘R’ in them? She was right. Months without an ‘R’ produce lousy horseradish…Julys and Augusts are just too hot. Again, she had an idea and either consulted a real, live person or experimented on her own. Somehow, she managed to figure things out. She must have talked with someone on the rules of horseradish or sat down to some sad tasting pulp, but she figured it out. She accomplished tasks knowing she had done her own research, made all the decisions and had done it her way. She was her own expert.
Now take me! I’ll confess. I look at all of the things that I do to my house, that I cook or bake in the kitchen or that I grow in my garden, and while I’m proud of my accomplishments, they have most likely come from someone else’s original idea. Ideas from others that I’ve said “Wow, I’d like to do that” and either copied or took the initial idea and tweaked it to fit my lifestyle. When is the last time I sat down and said I’d like to make a dish in the kitchen that contained a certain ingredient and then added it and other ingredients in a bowl trying to create my tasty little idea? Never. If I ever did do that, God forbid if it was bad tasting. Would I try it again with some new twists or would I just abandon the idea altogether? If the first time was a flop, would I try to think it through and make it a success a second or third time? I doubt it.
I’ve made meatloaf and worked in my garden recently, just like my Grandma did years ago. My meatloaf recipe came straight off the internet from http://www.MarthaStewart.com. I found the recipe in less than a minute. As I printed my step-by-step instructions out, I sat there in a panic thinking what was meant by “good” ketchup in the recipe. What the hell is “bad” ketchup? In the garden, I decided to plant artichokes this year and see if they would grow in Connecticut. How did I come up with this idea? A picture showing them growing in my area off of someone else’s iPhone. So what was my next step? I googled “artichoke growing” on the internet and received hundreds of sites with step-by-step growing instructions. So I then ordered the seeds (off the internet) from a seed company I saw mentioned on a TV show and then planted them in a growing system I heard described on the radio and then put them under a grow light I saw on another internet site. By the way, the grow light had four and a half stars attributed to it on the internet meaning it was a customer top favorite. How could I get the one that seemed better, but with fewer stars attributed to it? Do you see what I’m saying? Not one original idea in my head. No leadership; no innovation; no thought leadership. I’m a lemming just following the leader until I eventually fall off the side of a cliff.
In business today, there must be a slew of followers. Perfectionist people who scour for innovation and new ideas by reading the internet for hours. Site by site; post by post. Anything new and exciting is printed off or typed into their computer. They search on Google to find exactly how to make the idea a reality. They tweak the original just a little to call it their own. Then they introduce the final product to the world. In fact, aren’t followers in the business world now called great executors? This new term utilized in order to soften the blow to a group of people trained to follow others versus taking a risk on their own. An executor, that’s what I am. Not a leader or a thought provoker, but rather someone who can execute someone else’s idea to perfection. My meatloaf looked just like the picture in Martha’s recipe; my grow light artichokes are picture perfect.
Ideas=F; Execution=A+……that’s me.
I curse you, Martha, Emeril and Ina. Up yours, Vern and you Design Stars. May seeds never grow in your Victory Garden, Old Man Crockett!
So how do people of today change this course? How do we become thinkers again versus just executing? If my Grandma were here, I’m sure she could sit down and think up a solution. Me? I’m just going to Google it. What do you think about leaders versus followers in today’s world?
Thought provoking said the girl sitting at her computer reading your blog wondering what recipes or garden ideas I can take and make my own!!! :>
Hi Susan. Welcome back to Acorns On Glen. Exactly, sounds like you are an executor as well. Sigh…where are the new leaders in life? Identify yourselves, please.
I see your point about how having access to so much information can make it tempting to be a leader not a follower. If someone else has already found a solutions why recreate the wheel. But I also have another perspective.
I also had grandparents who were great cooks and gardeners. They too experimented with recipes, seedling, and many contraptions to grow the perfect tomato. When my grandmother cooked a Sunday meal it was all about love. The love of cooking and the love of having family together to share our lives and a homecooked meal. The same could be said about my grandfathers garden. It was what he loved to do. It didn’t have to be prize winning just enough to get a few tomatoes to have the family over for hotdogs and hamburgers with a slice of heaven from the garden.
I think in our professional lives we spend so much of our time thinking, perfecting, competing that when you have a moment to do something you are passionate about you approach it the same way thinking, planning, competing and perfecting. In any good garden or tasty dish there is alway a need for us to use these skill but I think our grandparents had the secret of putting a lot of love in what we do and loving what we do. There was no internet to tell them what they were doing was the best and they enjoyed the journey as much as the finished products.
You seemed to have rediscover three passions… the love of writing, the love of nature and gardening, and the love of cooking. Its ok to borrow ideas from other people, try to out garden and out cook Martha and Ina but in the end doing them with your heart and it won’t matter if your cake is a little lopsided just that you had fun making it. Keep us the great blog and remember to enjoy the journey as much as the results.
Thanks Dianna for your post. I do love all the tasks I undertake and I hear your point, but I still want to come up with that one great idea. The internet and TV make it too easy it seems to just sit down and think. I’m going to make myself think of ideas around questions I have for one whole day before I hit the internet or TV. I’m going to see if that helps make the difference. Come back and visit us soon.
The best way to bask in creativity is to take a few moments or hours away from all of the noise in your life – the gadgets and all of the people influencing your life. Try it and see what comes of it. You could enjoy the quiet in your garden and just be with yourself and your thoughts. You still have the leadership and creativity inside you – you just need to cultivate it. Our society doesn’t cultivate creativity, so you have to make time to find the creativity inside you. Let me know what you come up with.
Thanks for the comment, KMart, and welcome back to Acorns On Glen. You will have to laugh. I have been trying for a couple hours of solitude over the weekend to help spark my creativity. However, within 15 minutes, I am fast asleep. Do you think I can come up with something original through my dreams? I’ll keep trying and keep you posted. Come back and visit us soon.
Your article is great.
Creativity to me is not the one who had the original thought but to execute his thoughts into something that makes something or someone feel well.
Cook a nice dinner using someone else’s receipes is great to me because if someone compliments me on what I presented makes me feel as good as if I was the the originator of the receipe.
Presenting pleasure to others takes a certain creatitive act. And I want to say you have that act.
Welcome back Carolkin and thanks for the comment.