I suppose I should be happy knowing the difference between a good idea and a bad one.
With the number of bad ones I have, you’d think I’d have trouble even recognizing a good one.
For example, let’s say I’m headed to work for a 9 a.m. appointment. I leave in plenty of time, and realize I can stop for a quick cup of coffee but can’t take one of my exploratory routes, the kind Lewis and Clark made famous.
Instead, I save my signature gravel shortcuts, rutted donkey paths and ancient Native-American trade routes for another day.
After I’ve made this adult decision, the part of my brain that pumps out bad ideas starts peppering me with other options, everything from roads to take to places to stop for coffee.
The smaller part of my brain, the one blessed with a smidgen of good judgment, sticks with the straight and narrow, while the other one blurts out Options A, B, C and D.
Sometimes I think the two parts aren’t on speaking terms.
I ultimately stick with the sensible plan, but frankly, having to fight off those barrages of hare-brained ideas from Mr. Won’t Take No for an Answer wears me out.
The process reminds me of a racquetball game, one with a dozen balls bouncing off walls, ceiling and floor at once. I’m not very quick anymore, and those balls are hard and travel very fast.
To help visualize this phenomenon, imagine parents sitting in an SUV having just told the kids in the back, “No, we’re not stopping for ice cream. We’ll be home in 10 minutes and you can have some there.”
It’s a reasonable stance for sure, but no child I’ve ever known — and probably not one I’d want to know — takes the word “no” lying down. Let’s face it, their little developing backbones are part of what’s made America great.
Like little attorneys, the kids need only a nanosecond to come up with an argument, a motion or an objection, but you can bet your boots they will.
There’s some similarity between these mini-lawyers and the part of my brain that won’t accept rational, adult choices.
I understand there are times when having competing ideas can be useful, say in problem-solving, the creative process or mounting a filibuster in Congress.
And in reality, arriving at a correct answer or good solution doesn’t usually start with the best idea and work its way toward the Land of the Implausible, Unrealistic and Absurd.
Typically, things work the other way, with a rational brain sorting through a slew of bad ideas to get to a good one.
This is what happens in board rooms, where people in suits refer to what they do as “brainstorming,” even though every person in the room probably has his or her mind made up before anyone says a word.
Fortunately, I don’t work for an organization with a board room. If I did, part of my brain would propose a sensible idea, while the other part would begin spewing one bad idea after another.
I’m guessing this is where the expression “I’m of two minds” started. I’m just glad it’s two, not three or four.
If you also wage mental warfare with yourself, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org – that is, if you think it’s a good idea.