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 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 vibranium scene in Ironman 2:
What can we learn?
Work is a gateway to the timeless. Howard was disenchanted by a postwar society that wasn’t ready for his inventions. The man was simply too far ahead of his time. He wasn’t interested in playing a game to wait out the world. And so, realizing that his son was actually his greatest creation, he built a diagram that represented the chemical structure of a new element that was the key to the future. Tony then synthesized the formula into vibranium, placed it in his arc reactor to end his palladium dependency and changed the world. And that’s the beauty of creation. Its seemingly miraculous power to transcend time. I’m reminded of an interview with a veteran actress, whose first television series only lasted for one season. Claire said, though, that in the twenty years that followed, the show had an amazing afterlife. It gained a cult following, made millions in home videos and merchandising and went down in history as one of the best single season dramas in television history. And so, it doesn’t matter if we’re making a chemical reactor or a television drama. Each of us can create work that lives on long after its moment of conception. Each of us can produce art that remains vital after the culture in which it was conceived passes into history. Does the theme behind what you do speak louder than the era in which you do it?
Nothing comes from out of nowhere. In a fascinating article about how to nurture a creative climate, Brooks explains that creativity hardly flows out of an act of complete originality. It’s rarely a virgin birth, he says, but rather of clash of two value systems or traditions, which, in collision, create a transcendent third thing. Moments of conception, after all, come from combining diverse references. Letting various ideas reflect heat onto one another like logs in a fireplace. Tony, then, is a master of the creative climate. Watching him restructure his father’s chaotic and fragmentary pieces of information into an orderly, understandable and conclusive insight is like watching a maestro conduct a symphony. That’s what makes him a superhero. Not physical domination, but mental combination. This is my favorite scene of the movie and one of the best uses of advanced digital technology in film. And what’s crazy to think about is, his operation isn’t as futuristic as it used to be. Jarvis is a form of artificial intelligence that already exists. It’s only a matter of time before each of us has one for ourselves. Assuming that technology posed no constraints, what would you change right now about your business processes and operations?
Your body will never lie to you. Tony’s suffered a severe chest injury during a kidnapping and was forced to wear an armored chestplate beneath his clothes to act as a regulator for his heart. Now he must recharge that chestplate every day, or else risk the shrapnel killing him. But because of this condition, he’s developed an exquisite understanding of what his own inner ecology has to be. Ecology, after all, is the study of the relationships and interactions between organisms and their environment. Stark is a master of that. Just look at his workshop, garage, man cave, creative control center and laboratory. It’s the one place in life where he is most himself. It’s the sacrosanct space where he’s completely free to direct the traffic flow of his own overcrowded mind. Where he can focus on transcribing his visions, subduing his thoughts and corralling them onto a canvas. Where he can manage his internal ecosystem and personal habitat. And the good news is, not everyone needs a billion dollars to reach that level of understanding about themselves. As much as we’d all love to have our creativity boosted by a billion dollar corporate machine working every angle, all we really need to do is pay closer attention to our physical sense experience. To increase our feelings of connection and aliveness whenever possible. If we can achieve that, there’s no telling what kind of new elements we might discover. What does your inner ecology have to be?
What did you learn?
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