What a great gift it is to have the privacy of our own thoughts.
Without much thought, I’m sure you can probably think of a co-worker or family member who was born without this gift — those who feel the need to share every though with everyone. But lucky are we who possess it! My thoughts are like a personal journal of sarcastic quips and realizations (which I’ve kindly allowed you to breach) and some of you are sick enough to find it entertaining.
Now I’d hate for any of you to think of me as anything but witty (and brilliant, and beautiful). But there’s a danger that comes with the bounty of wit, and that’s the tendency to be cheesy. I hate to admit this, but not every thought that pops into my head is smart and quirky, and making you believe otherwise requires a bit of filtering. I consider censorship of my own thoughts very important. If I drop a few too many stale puns, and suddenly I’m The Cheesy Intern and down by 400 followers on Twitter. I honestly can’t think of anything worse.
It’s a distinct (but very thin) line that separates the clever Benjamin Franklin from the unbearable Pee-wee Herman, and as an intern, the last thing I want to do is prove myself corny rather than creative. This cautious mindset, however, was nearly my downfall last week.
I’ll take you back a couple of days, as I prepared to participate in my first creative brainstorming session. I joined my co-workers around the conference table to brainstorm theme ideas for one of our client’s big events, and suddenly everyone was shouting out ideas right and left.
My mind began to churn as thoughts started popping into my head, but I was being very careful to censor myself. “That idea’s too cheesy,” I’d say to myself. “No, that one’s dumb.” “I can’t say that out loud. Can I say that out loud?” The result: I really wasn’t saying much of anything.
Finally someone turned to me and asked me if the cat had my tongue.
What was I honestly afraid of? Afraid that I’d fail to contribute ideas that were valuable?
That’s a pretty likely outcome with my mouth glued shut.
So there I began to contribute, resisting the urge to censor and voicing every clever / mediocre / idiotic idea that came to mind. And to my surprise, the feedback was very positive: “Great idea!” “That was a good one!” “How ’bout this too…”
I found that many of the ideas I feared to be cheesy were actually received quite favorably by others. Everyone feeds off each other. And although every idea may not be the brightest, each one can trigger a train of thought within the group that leads to a brilliant concept.
Lesson Learned: Censorship is the downfall of creative brainstorms. When you hold back, you’re limiting both yourself and everyone else.
So when I strolled in the office the following Monday, I learned that the client had actually selected one of my theme ideas for the development of their event—an honor indeed! Granted, the event isn’t exactly a black-dress gala at the White House, but that’s hardly the point. If we had been selecting a theme for the Jones family picnic, I’d be just as thrilled. I’m thrilled just knowing I’ve made a contribution. Everyone in the office was very congratulatory, I felt like an office celebrity. Don’t they know they’re giving me a big head?
So as I sat down in my office and logged onto my computer, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of satisfaction. In all honesty, just knowing that I’d been a contributing part of the process made me smile.
And when I opened the email to see which of my ideas had been selected, I couldn’t help but smile a little bigger.
It was, by far, the cheesiest one.