All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today’s clip comes from the pigeon scene in Indian Jones & The Last Crusade:
What can we learn?
Everything is grist for the creative mill. In the problem solving process, our first instinct is to look for answers externally. But in most cases, the answer lies within. Something we already know is precisely what we need to find the solution. It’s simply a matter of trusting our resources. Believing we are well equipped to handle our creative challenges. Henry, a lifelong scholar of history, suddenly remembers an inspiring quotation from a famous historical figure. And so, he bridges, seeking connections and noticing natural relationships between that reference and his current situation. That’s what gives him the idea to take down the nazi airplane with an umbrella and a flock of pigeons. And as the propeller shreds the birds into a feathery white puree and clogs the engine, it all makes sense. Henry’s entire life has prepared him for this very moment. His expansive landscape of interconnected knowledge and experiences has made him a powerful recombinant thinker and inventor. All he needed was the right moment into which he could compress that training. What do you already know that will help you solve this problem?
Create without a crutch. Henry is a scholar. A man who fights battles with his mind. Someone who doesn’t require an automatic weapon or a custom retractable hang gliding spy gadget to defeat the enemy. Just an ordinary umbrella and a little help from nature. That’s about as low tech as you can get. It’s a humbling reminder that creativity isn’t always about having the right equipment. In fact, there’s no historical relationship between technology and innovation. That’s like the amateur golfer trying to buy a lower score with a titanium driver. The reality is, if you really had an amazing swing and a deep understanding of the game, you could shoot par with a rusty set of rented clubs. Real artists work the same way. They can create anytime, anywhere. People who refuse to go to work unless the have the right tools are unprofessional hack procrastinators. True art is equipment agnostic. Which of your own excuses are you falling in love with?
Walk with the wise. Indiana wears a proud expression as he sees his father in a new light. Even he can admit, that was pretty cool. And as he watches his father’s cheeky stride on the beach, using the very umbrella he just saved their lives with to shield the sun, he realizes how inspirational this moment truly is. In fact, the actual meaning of the word inspiration is to arouse reverence. And one of the ways we do that is to surround ourselves with people who challenge and inspire us. To play with those who raise our game. Because there are three kinds of people in the world: Those who make us less than we are, those who keep us where we are, and those who push us to what we might become. And so, next time we’re wondering why our creative output is lagging, it’s often because our human input is lacking. Perhaps it’s time to prune the hedges. Are you willing to personally amputate anyone who doesn’t believe in or support you?
What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?