Moments of Conception 110 — The Budget Scene from Dave

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 budget scene in Dave:

What can we learn?

Susceptible to executional inertia. The creator is in the business of giving shape and forward motion to his ideas. Turning the obsession that fascinates him into something real in the world. However, while this work is intellectually and existentially rewarding, it’s not cheap. The purchase price of creativity is uncertainty. Not knowing always accompanies the artist as an unwanted lifelong companion. And unless we learn how to circumvent it, the process will continue to feel like walking backwards into a dark tunnel. Dave is a celebrity impersonator, not the leader of the free world. He smiles like a schmuck. He doesn’t know the first thing about being president, much less balancing the federal budget. And now certainly isn’t the time to learn. But this is a national emergency. If he doesn’t cut a half a billion dollars, he’ll never be able to restore the children’s homeless shelter. And so, he enlists his accountant friend to help him rewrite the budget. Together, the two of them discover myriad ways in which the government can tighten its belt, reprioritize their spending and focus on the issues that matter most. I’ve always loved this scene. It reminds me that what we lack in knowledge we can make up in resourcefulness, courage, passion and commitment. Because if we always waited until we knew what we were doing, we’d never do anything. What is waiting getting in the way of?

There is nothing to do but begin. Moliere famously said that theater was just two planks and a passion. Notice he didn’t say anything about writing scripts, securing royalties, casting actors, designing costumes, building sets, booking space, acquiring financing, hiring staff, booking security, choreographing dances, scoring music, selling tickets and contacting promoters. Because none of that matters. If you really wanted to put on a show, you would have done it by now. You’re the only thing in the way. Knowledge isn’t the thing that sets your dream free, you are. Dave, then, is a master of negative capability. He’s honed the skill of being in uncertainties, living with mysteries and dwelling in doubts. And if he knows anything, it’s that not knowing has zero bearing on whether or not his dream becomes a reality. It’s simply a matter of will. Ultimately, each creator owes it to themselves to hone this capability. Because while we can’t control life’s waves of uncertainty, at least we can improve our surfing skills so we’re ready when the big one comes crashing in. How could you lower the threshold for getting started?

A little ignorance goes a long way. Dave brings perspective from an unbiased source. He’s just a regular guy whose intellectual limitations free him to consider the winning solutions our government has long since taken for granted. Someone who knows there is no prerequisite to giving good ideas a future. I’m reminded of a client meeting from several years ago. The president of the company said they needed someone who could come in and ask the dumb questions that they stopped asking long ago, because they just know. And I told him, that’s why I’m here, because I know nothing. And they hired me. Why? Because a little ignorance goes a long way. Because objectivity is equity. And because sometimes it takes a person who knows nothing to change everything. Consider that as a permission slip for your own creative process. Focus on moving forward without moving flawlessly, focus on occupying your imperfection and adding energy to the system, and you’ll have no trouble making your dreams a reality. What if you don’t need to know as much as you think you do?

What did you learn?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 

[email protected]

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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