Folks occasionally ask, “Where do your ideas come from?” I usually answer, “I don’t really know.” That’s true. I don’t really know. But I have an impression. It’s an impression rooted, as ideas are rooted, in convictions.
Convictions are the primary and invisible tendencies, drives, and impressions that fuel ideas and actions. Convictions are tricky because they work silently, on their own, secreted from (and paradoxically by) the mind. The process works like this.
Under the influence of his or her convictions, a person generates ideas and undertakes actions which are, in time, evaluated by others. Sometimes a person’s ideas and actions are evaluated positively, sometimes negatively, and sometimes the evaluation takes the form of indifference.
Whatever the evaluation, it is always ideas and actions that are evaluated, never the convictions that fueled their creation. This is because convictions work in an area of our mind that is not just unnoticed, but unnoticeable. And this is why idea origins seem mysterious. This separation between convictions, and the ideas and actions they fuel, is present throughout nature. Consider the bumblebee.
A bumblebee’s tendencies, drives, and impressions conspire within the bee to fuel an action: the collection of nectar. If you’re a bumblebee, you collect nectar. Period. But bumblebees are not evaluated by the rest of nature on their ability to collect nectar. Bumblebees are evaluated on their ability to relocate pollen from plant to plant.
To put it starkly, the role the bumblebee plays in the life of everybody on the planet is notable to everyone … except the bee.
An important difference between humans and bumblebees is that humans can contemplate their ideas and actions before they are set loose for evaluation. For example, I’ve never asked anyone about the origin of ideas. If I ever do, my inquiry will be, “From where do your ideas come?” That construction is not fueled by my convictions. It’s fueled by the memory of a teacher who literally beat (ruler to wrist) the release of sentence ending prepositions out of my mind.
Ideas, and their associated actions, come from convictions. This incomplete answer begs another question. From where do convictions come? My answer, I have no idea.
Written by Matt Manna
Nov 02, 2015 • 1B65ACE4(R01)
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