Inspiration favors a prepared mind

On the 18th hole of the British Open a few years back, Gary Player was mired 8 feet deep in a greenside bunker without even a view of the flag.  From this preposterous position he opened the clubface and pitched the ball straight up over the wall and, after bouncing twice, rolled it into the hole.  As he approached the flag to retrieve his ball a fan yelled out, “Hey Gary, you gotta admit that was a pretty lucky shot.”  Gary replied, “Yes, but I find the more I practice, the luckier I get.”

Stephen Lundin tells this story as a reminder that there are things one can do to have a prepared and open mind, receptive to inspiration and poised to alight on innovative ideas and move them to execution.  His first piece of advice is to try to envision the next major milestone, or finished result.  However impossible the goal may feel now, if imagined you can more easily recognize fragments of the solution and draw them closer to integrate.

Chip Heath uses the example of when Chip Conley was building his first Joie de Vivre hotel in the rough meatpacking district of San Francisco back in 1987.  He had taken an enormous chance on the location and had gathered his team on-site to help envision what the new hotel might look like.  After a couple days of talking past one another and lacking any agreement on direction, Chip arrived the next morning and placed a copy of Rolling Stone on the table and suggested they imagine a Rolling Stone hotel.  Now with an end intent it became much easier to iterate on what the flavor, culture, ambience of the place might be.  And thus it became the first Joie de Vivre hotel.  Chip Heath’s advice amplifies Lundin’s point – inspiration and innovation favor a prepared mind.