The Spark

Shining a light on new possibilities

My last few blogs have been about things that interest me, that I’m curious about. Or rather that I have been curious about in the past. If you put to one side my take on the EU referendum, which interested a few people, my writing has largely been met with indifference beyond some kind family and friends. I’ve waffled on about advocacy, debating, the future, business growth, careers, yawn…zzz. But, do you know what, I don’t care. Writing is a curiosity in itself and it helps clear my brain to get things down on (virtual) paper. It’s a form of practice to help express my thoughts and ideas and just like any other writing not all of those thoughts are of dazzling brilliance eloquently put. It’s the doing and creating that’s more important.

Pursuing curiosities has led me to learn all sorts of things, many of which were unexpected, many about myself. It doesn’t matter what they are, they have each in their own way provided a spark. It’s as though I’m carrying around a empty box of matches and every so often I find one and strike it; the light it produces instantaneously opens up some new possibilities. Sometimes I find matches by myself — the internet definitely helps here — but the best ones are given to me by other people. They’re the equivalent of a slow-burning sparkler that provides enough light not just for me but for others in my vicinity. It gives me the time for those possibilities to grow into ideas that I then use to create something.

It follows that the more people I come into contact with the more matches and sparks I’m likely to get. Last night I went to an event about how to build a career that makes a positive impact hosted by Escape the City. Regular readers (there’s at least one of you!) will know I have written about Escape before and I was expecting a fun evening where I might learn something. It was great to hear Emily Penn speak about how she was ‘sparked’ several years ago into doing something about reducing the amount of plastic in our oceans. But what I really remember was the short conversations I had with complete strangers and the connections that I made. Not in the usual “networking, direct, what can I get out of this person” way but a more subtle catalysing of possibilities borne from just listening to people talk about themselves for a bit. To wring the last drop from my analogy, I could hear matches being struck all around the room! Some of them were given by me too. For nearly every person I spoke to I found I could suggest people, organisations or resources that they could explore that were interesting or relevant to them in some way. I have no idea if they found anything I said useful or not but I got a big kick out of it and I returned home a lot more inspired and motivated than when I went. To borrow one of LOPO’s 8 principles: I’d “engineered some serendipity”.

The whole episode reaffirmed for me the importance of being curious, widening my perspective and listening to others to galvanise myself into doing and creating. The first output has been this blog — yesterday I was stuck as to what I was going to write about next, but the idea came to me on the train home and I started from there. If you have an urge to create or do something but are little short on inspiration at the moment then go and talk to someone, anyone, or explore what you’re interested in. And remember to take your box of matches — you never know what might happen.

Collaborating. Communicating. Connecting. I am passionately curious — are you?