Be a voice, not a parrot

Parrots

Have you ever heard someone talking and it sounds like they’re just stringing quotes together? It’s pretty obvious. Nothing sounds original. You almost want to put air quotes on either side of them to set the right context for what they’re saying.

I’ve been “the quoter” before. For the record, there’s nothing wrong with quoting someone else. It’s more valuable though that I can articulate my own reaction to what a quote means. If I’m just using quotes to sound smart, then I’ve missed the whole point.

With so much verbal noise today, it’s tempting to just parrot back different trendy quotes or ideas. If I was meant to be a parrot, I’d have wings and feathers. Whenever I do that, I miss the most important part: why did those quotes strike me in the first place? It’s my responsibility to figure out where I stand with ideas I engage, even if I ultimately realize, “I don’t know how I feel about that.”

There’s a massive conversation going on about God and faith and the Bible and church and culture. And we get to be a part of that conversation.

In that conversation though, we each have a responsibility: be a voice, not a parrot.

You don’t have to be a super genius, or even be absolutely certain what you believe about other opinions and ideas… but you do have to be yourself. You may not be the most recognized, smartest, most educated philosopher of today (it’s okay, I’m not either!), but you get to share your unique perspective on other people’s ideas.

We don’t need the next Albert Einstein or Plato or Thomas Edison; we need the first you. Share your ideas. Share your perspective. In your own way and to the best of your own ability, know what you believe and why. Have your own voice.

And don’t be a parrot. Parrots are noisy. Parrots say what people train them to say. You were made for more than just a pretty bird; you’re made in the image of God capable of original critique and thought.

Be a voice, not a parrot.

Ideas are clouds, not concrete

Cloud - 01

Ideas are cheap. Good, bad, any type of idea, it doesn’t cost you anything but brain power. Our brain neurons fire at unthinkable speeds, which produce ideas with hardly any effort at all.

The problem with ideas is sometimes they’re hard to convey. Most times we can articulate our thoughts and ideas, but there are seasons in the creative process where even articulating ideas can be a difficult hurdle.

It’s because ideas are more like clouds, and less like concrete.

For example… how would you define a cloud?

Right about now you might be glancing out the window for a cloud. It’s easier to point out a cloud if you see it, but it’s much harder to define exactly what it is. There are massive clusters of microscopic ice crystals large enough to refract light from all seven color wavelengths to appear white in color… and that’s what we call clouds.

Much easier shown than said.

A concrete concept has little to do with actual concrete. It’s definite, absolute, an existing part of reality. At some point, everything we see around us was an idea turned into a concrete concept.

Someone had an idea of four circles and a bench or two with a motor to propel the benches and wheels to transport people places faster than a horse could. Of course, that’s now what we call a car, but someone had to articulate their idea in a way people understood so the idea went from “cloud” to concrete: a car.

When it comes to sharing ideas, much of the struggle isn’t about whether an idea is good, bad, or average. The biggest struggle is clearly articulating and defining the idea so others can understand.

If you’re involved in any type of creative process, the responsibility is on you to wrestle for the clearest, simplest ways to explain your ideas. If I can’t explain it simply, then I probably don’t understand it fully myself.

The journey from ideas being hard to define, like a cloud, to being more concrete is well worth the struggle. You owe it to your team, your fellow creatives, and your Creator in heaven to be as clear as you can with the clouds your brain produces. They’re not just ideas; they’re possibilities waiting to be defined.