There is a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” She had a lot of really pithy things to say but for some reason this is the one I carry around in my pocket (not literally, mind you, though that’s probably not a bad idea). I had dinner with two crazy-creative women last night (you’ll hear them interviewed on my podcast). Becky and Traci are two of the most interesting people on the planet as far as I’m concerned and this is where Eleanor’s quote comes in. For a person to be interesting I think they almost have to be interested in ideas. While I have been known to gossip (a fact of which I am not proud) and I do care about what happened at this or that awards banquet or fund raiser, I am most engaged when I am in a conversation about an idea. Almost any idea will serve. You can say that’s ridiculous because, “What artist would care about a math problem or a computer program?” I think anyone (that includes artists, engineers and accountants) can be provoked to think out loud with an idea.
Often we substitute our problems for ideas and that’s when conversations get boring. The problem may not be all that interesting. The fact that my kitchen tap leaks is not interesting to anyone including me. A plumbing system that carries a life-giving source through miles of pipes and has it pop out a spout in my kitchen at the turn of a knob is a very cool idea! When you find you are locked in a boring, problem-based conversation, look for the idea of it. Everything, everything, EVERYTHING is based on an idea. It’s the idea that’s worth discussing.