Tag Archives: Think Pond

We All Need a Sounding Board

Have you ever had an original idea or theory that you know is good–but you keep it to yourself? Maybe you sense that the people around you don’t want to hear about it or think they wouldn’t understand. Maybe you’re worried someone might take credit for it or even steal it and use it for their own profit, so you keep it to yourself. Maybe a little part of you is afraid that people will try to talk you out of it or point out a major flaw.

I get it. Carrying around a good idea can be comforting and hopeful. It can feel exhilarating to know that you have this great solution in your back pocket that you can pull out when the right opportunity comes along.

But consider what could happen if you wait for that perfect moment: It comes. You have a potential spotlight. You are at a meeting or conference or networking event with influential people who can fund or support your idea. The perfect opening comes up and all eyes are on you.

You begin talking. If you’re like me, it is unlikely that you will take full advantage of the opportunity. Maybe the language you use will fail to capture the magic of your idea. Maybe you will get into too much detail about aspects that are not important. You finish knowing that your audience probably doesn’t understand the key point you wanted to convey, maybe even has the wrong idea of what you are presenting. If they ask questions, you may not be prepared to answer clearly. Your time is up. You know that if you start trying to correct their errors they will lose interest.

With your think pond, you can present your idea early and see how different people react. You can role play and practice so that when your time to shine arrives, you will confidently state your idea in language that hits the right notes. You have already answered many of the potential questions that will arise and maybe even defended your idea powerfully.

Moreover, you know there are people–somewhere out there–who believe.

Inspiring Quotes for Think Ponds

“The future is not in building a new tower of Babel, but in cultivating well trodden paths from house to house.”
Raimundo Panikkar

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
Howard Zinn

“Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope…These ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Robert F. Kennedy

Think Pond Wish List

Think Ponds are for people who want to:

  • Do joyful, creative, meaningful, and fulfilling work.
  • Have conversations and experiences that stretch the mind, spark the imagination, and expand the vision.
  • Make “digital life” less fragmented, more inquiring, and more aspirational.
  • Become attuned to possibilities and potential changes that could have wide-ranging effects on their lives and the world.
  • Work with a diverse array of minds and talents.

Dream Calling: Essential Questions

  • In what ways do you consider yourself creative or innovative?
  • In what areas do you wish you were more creative or innovative?
  • What stimulates your imagination?
  • What are some areas within your industry or profession where innovation most needs to happen?
  • Based on recognized problems and developments you have seen in recent years, what is the likely next wave of your industry or profession? What change is currently emerging?
  • If you could change careers without losing any income, would you do it? If so, what would you do differently?

Solution-Crafting: Essential Questions

  • What role do imagination and creativity play in your chosen profession and in your current industry, organization, and job? In your other roles (citizen, parent, partner, single person, homeowner, gardener, cook, athlete, whatever)?
  • What are some specific creative challenges you face currently?
  • What would you like to make?
  • What are some areas within your industry or profession where innovation most needs to happen?
  • What types of solutions would transform your industry or profession?

What is a Think Pond?

Think Ponds are fluid associations of diverse individuals who bring their imaginations, knowledge, and skill sets, along with their dreams and passion projects, into a community of their own design. Creative energies converge, expanding possibility. Obstacles are flattened as complementary skills combine and available resources broaden. Timelines contract. Promising ideas stay out of the trash. Connections proliferate.

For individuals, a Think Pond is a next generation platform for shaping and strengthening four essential lifelong enterprises: 1) Dream chasing, 2) Life-embedded learning, 3)Solution-crafting, and 4) Venture launching. Making the most of these enterprises will both improve your competitive edge and increase your level of fulfillment with the work you do in the world.

For the greater good, an evolving ecosystem of Think Ponds is a wellspring of creativity and collaboration that can increase the sustainability of innovative, socially valuable programs, incubate new businesses, and activate unrealized human potential.

The Four Enterprises

Do you think of a career as a sequence of jobs with progressively higher pay and greater responsibility? What if you reimagined your career as a set of four lifelong enterprises that you continuously create and expand and refine. Merriam-Webster defines an enterprise as “a project or undertaking that is especially difficult, complicated, or risky.” In other words, I am talking about endeavors that continue whether you are employed, unemployed, or under-employed. Whatever your circumstances, you keep these four enterprises alive because they supply something you need.

I think everyone need to pursue these four lifelong enterprises, regardless of the individual’s passions, aptitudes, credentials, employment experiences, assets, and constraints:

Dream Chasing. Using your imagination fully. Paying attention to the sensory experiences, images, and cultural expressions that swirl around you and mindfully pursuing those that awaken your mind, heighten the intensity of your emotions, and enrich your soul. Exploring possibilities, envisioning your desired future, and inventing the kinds of endeavors that will both fulfill you and make a positive difference. . . .

Life-Embedded Learning. Taking advantage of the numerous learning opportunities afforded by books, media entities, technologies, community resources, and people in your sphere. Continually investigating what you know and what you think you know. Consciously developing and applying new skills, adapting existing knowledge and skills in new areas, and finding greater depth of meaning and significance in the people, environments, and experiences you encounter.

Solution Crafting.  Looking at your life from different perspectives and seeking ways to synergize your assets and talents. Bringing an artistic sensibility, design thinking, and surprise into whatever you produce. Continually generating divergent ideas about how to look at and respond to circumstances, problems, challenges, opportunities, and desires–both individually and collaboratively. . . . .

Venture launching. Thinking about and testing ways to carry your ideas and solutions forward into the marketplace for your profit, into the public sphere for the good of others and the enrichment of the culture, or just into a wider conversation for their continued development and enrichment.

The Multidimensional Meaning of “Presence”

By Deborah Vrabel

What do we mean when we talk about our “online presence?”

I think it’s multidimensional. It means:

  • Be there.
  • Pay attention.
  • Adapt.
  • Lead.

Being there. Woody Allen once said that “80% of life is showing up.” That quote captures the most literal meaning of presence It’s raising your hand and saying “Present!” when the teacher calls your name–whatever your academic preparedness or intentions to participate, you have cleared the first hurdle. You are there. Sometimes that simple kind of presence—being there with no distinction, no defined role, nothing unique to say or do—is all that is needed or required. You show up.

Occupying space–whether physical or cyber–is only the beginning of presence though.

Being Present to the Moment. To be present is to be mindful. When observing, it is noticing even the tiniest things. When interacting, it is listening carefully. When working, it is being invested and “in the moment.”  In other words, you are present when you are doing what you are supposed to be doing.

Showing “Presence of Mind.” To be present is to think quickly and respond appropriately and competently when something unexpected happens—whether a threatening situation, an awkward moment, or a good opportunity.

Having Presence. Finally, presence describes an outward demeanor some people have that enables them to capture and hold attention and admiration. Ask ten people to think of someone they know who has “presence” and describe that person in one word or phrase, and you could easily receive several different answers:

“lights up a room” … “commands attention” … “star quality” … “elegant” … “poised” … “shows grace under pressure” … “unruffled.”

I would contend that part of what gives them this demeanor is the inner quality of attentiveness, as described above, along with self-confidence, purpose, and inner strength.

I think all of those forms of presence are relevant to anyone who wants to share ideas, build a movement, or sell a product online.

You need to be “there” in the search engine and social media milieu. You must show up with meaning and over time. How many times have you heard the plea “Like us on Facebook” and then found a page that serves no discernible purpose and seldom changes? I know I have created a couple of those.

You need to be “attentive and mindful” in the online world. That means learning from others, commenting on other people’s work thoughtfully, noticing things and making your own conclusions.

It means being relevant–which is impossible without paying attention to what’s going on around you–both online and off-line–and taking your opportunity to jump in and participate.

Doing all that will develop the kind of presence that people notice, admire, and find reassuring. It will help you develop self-knowledge and a voice that commands attention. You will be poised to respond with online offerings that resonate.

Time to Reflect: The Origin of Think Pond

By Deborah Vrabel

Pinpointing when and how the Think Pond concept originated is difficult. There was a moment when the name came to me and a conversation that inspired that moment, but Think Pond ripples across decades of language, ideas, relationship, observation, experience, and yearning.

Still I think it best to begin with Now–because Now is the epicenter of everything. Now contains the reasons anyone would care about this venture.

Today’s Think Pond links to recent conversations I’ve had with people who have gifts they are eager to share and aspirations that lie outside these things we have invented called “jobs” and “career paths.” Some of them have great jobs, good pay, and work they love and want to keep doing. But they had to shed a cherished piece of their dreams to have it. They had to re-channel much of their learning, their skill, their imagination, and their time in one direction.

I’ve talked with people who are underemployed, underutilized, or under-credentialed. Some are over 50, struggling to make sense of the technological tectonics that dwarf even the Industrial Revolution. They’re yearning to share or maybe reframe knowledge they gained over the years but they lack the platform, the tools, the apps. Others are just starting out and are facing tough choices in a tough economy. They’re finding they need to learn constantly and widely, to find a creative outlet, to think like entrepreneurs. Some of them are struggling to be great parents without compromising the work they love. Some are stalled, their unique, amazing gifts kept in check because of obstacles that could be easily removed with some mentoring, tech support, feedback, or sometimes just a bit of encouragement.

All those stories–told by people representing a range of ages, professions, education and income levels, and talents–leave me with these questions:

  • What richness, what knowledge, what solutions are we losing?
  • What if people could craft their jobs based on what they have to give and want to give the world?