The Trash Can Is Our Friend

So many things are calling us “back to the drawing board” right now. Where we’re working out of, how we’re meeting, where we’re going (on vacation? to college? as a culture?), it’s a great time to pause and appreciate the positive power of the trash can. Yeah, sometimes it’s sucks, especially when good things get taken away and tossed into it, but one page in the trash also means a blank one in front of us. Professionally, it’s the mutual acts of reflecting, exploring, and progressing where we’ll create all of our value.

The trash can is your friend. A mediocre idea is not a great idea, but it can be a step towards one. Drafts are not final manuscripts and beta versions aren’t shipped products. Initial comments from a client or colleague may not be the actual information we need. Respectfully throw it away. The trash can is a partner, it will hold it for you in case you need to go back. What counts is that there’s progress.

Mr. Rogers said, “Play gives children a chance to practice what they’re learning.” Like so many things in his universe, he didn’t mean it just for kids. We can apply this one to our work too, especially for how we collaborate with others. We can have goals and objectives on the table, but they should start as putty and not hardened cement.

Likewise, even if we think we are looking at the same idea, it pays to make time to play with it. We can learn something from exploring, including when we need to start over or when it’s finished. Play gives us the chance to not just think about what we want, but why we want it and how we want to get there.

The trash can is our friend. It helps us iterate. It gives us permission to be curious. If our goal is to create something of value, step one is to create something, start a dialogue, or get the putty on the table. Step two is to start working towards making it valuable.

Want more? There’s a abundance of “trash” related posts here.

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