Do Be Do Be Do

My husband is fascinated by Quantum Physics; a subject that seems to be right at the intersection where the known and provable, meet the unknown but conceivable. Dr. Amit Goswami, professor emeritus in the University of Oregon's Physics department, refers to this as the "realm of possibility." In fact, Dr. Goswami is considered "a revolutionary amongst a growing body of renegade scientists," who are attempting to utilize science to prove the existence of a spiritual dimension. He had me at renegade . . .

I recently heard an interview with Dr. Goswami, in which he talks about the process of creativity, and how all the very best inventions and creations (and all the not-so-bright ones too), started their journeys in the realm of possibility. What caught my attention was the description of the creative process — how do ideas go from being ideas, to becoming things?

do. be. do. be. do.

Yep. Do be do be do. Not the Frank Sinatra kind, either. Instead, it's a description of the phases of activity and incubation necessary to grab the best ideas, and make them a reality. According to Dr. Goswami, we start with the preparation stage (do) — I liken this to the Discovery phase in my own process. I do research, and ask lots of questions. Who does the problem affect?  How many have this problem? What have others done to try and solve it? It lays the groundwork for the ideas to come. The second stage is the "sit quietly and do nothing" stage (be). The incubation stage. You access your imagination, and just let all the potential ideas drift through your mind. Not grabbing onto any in particular, knowing that the contenders will continue to float through your mind's eye, while the less viable will just dissolve. When I was younger, my teachers called this "daydreaming." Now, a Physics Professor is validating my process. Ha!

The thoughts that drift through, are endowed with waves of meaning. Like a pebble thrown into a still pond, causing ripples to move outward, growing in number and size until they reach the shore, our thoughts also expand, engendering multiple meanings during the incubation phase. If you allow time for expansion, the more meaning your "pond" of possibility will contain. "If you have a bigger possibility pool to choose from," Dr. Goswami says, "obviously your chances of being creative is greater." Sweet! 

When the big "aha!" idea ripples through your imagination, you switch back into "do" mode, and you capture it. This is the quantum leap. The change from possibility into actuality. So you need to do, and you need to be (or do nothing) in order to create. Instead of do, do, do, or be, be, be — do be do be do.

In business, it can be difficult to sit still. We are accustomed to "do, do, do" in order to get things done! But don't overlook the value of "be," or incubation. Let your imagination wander into the realm of possibility, and just wait. I find that when I am really stuck with a particular challenge, sometimes a walk with my dog is enough "be" time, to really just free things up. I'm not "doing" anything relative to the challenge at-hand, even though my unconscious is still present with it. I don't have to worry that the challenge will disappear, just because I take a break from it. But taking a break, and being kind to myself about it, can make a world of difference.

Images of subatomic particles from the Fermilab Bubble Chamber

Images of subatomic particles from the Fermilab Bubble Chamber

Until the next post,


P.S. Here's an excerpt from the interview with Dr. Goswami where he discusses creativity:  

Brenda CornettComment