The Flashlight Path to Great Creative Ideas

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Entropy is the dispersion of energy. A battery powers a flashlight. The battery’s electrical charge is dispersed to the flashlight’s bulb filament. The filament glows from the energy and disperses the energy as light. The light travels as far as the energy can carry it before it dims and disappears.

Why is an ad guy giving a science lesson? It's a metaphor. Energy is how greatness is powered. Entropy, or the second law of thermodynamics, proves that that energy is not finite. It must be replenished. What goes for a flashlight goes for an art director. So, how do you recharge and how often? I think one of my weaknesses is not appreciating the importance of the need to recharge. Sitting, staring at a blank page for too long is a good indication that one’s battery is too low.

Sometimes the best way to find an answer is to get away from the question. Now this is dangerous advice to some. If you aren’t obsessed with doing great work, not having to face the problem can be an excuse to not solve it. But if you take problem solving seriously, recharging is critical part of the process.

Luke Sullivan stressed this in his book, “Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This.” He said if he was working on a particular product like, say, a herbicide he’d pick up a magazine on skateboarding. He went to a completely different place to discover a fresh approach. That’s great advice because it works.

So do you want to be famous? Then make sure you respect the 2nd law of Thermodynamics. Don't make recharging just another definition of "goofing off."
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