These are my verbs, folks: Compose, create, design, generate, integrate, modify, rearrange, reconstruct, reorganize, and revise.

From the originality prong of Torrance’s (1979) framework for creative thinking, thanks to The other three parts of his framework deal with fluency, flexibility, and elaboration.


For more than 50 years, NPR has been asking folks to share their dearest and most fundamental beliefs.

Here are mine:

People are complicated. Whether you’ve known them for 50 years or 50 minutes, they will always have something interesting to say if you ask the right questions and are ready to listen.

People can change. Nobody’s doomed to stay the same forever.

Creation is the act of seeing a metaphor and making it come true.

Words matter. When you teach yoga, is it child’s pose, child pose, or pose of a child?

Out of respect for the world’s complexity, I believe that ranges and estimates often outperform fixed goals. But not always:  “A” should be tuned to 440 hertz and sentences should omit needless words.

Empowering people to act for themselves is often more helpful than telling them what to do.

We make only minuscule dents in the universe.  Express as much of this wonderful, crazy experience as you can in the time you have. Amelia Curran asks: “What will you be building when you have to go?”

In a tiny speck, the universe.

We are all moving towards wholeness, folks. Let’s cut each other slack where we can.

3 more diagnostic questions than “What’s your passion?”


These days, everybody’s got their passion, and every employer wants their employees to be passionate about their jobs. When there’s so much pressure to feel passionately about something, how can you really know what that something is?

The problem with passion is that the word is too general. It’s difficult to operationalize and easy to misuse. You might say you’re passionate about something when really you’re only moderate interested. I’m moderately interested in information visualization, but I’m not passionate about it. The word “passion” describes the goal you want to achieve, but doesn’t help you diagnose how to get there.

Here’s my best shot at operationalizing the term. Imagine it’s December 28. You’re on vacation, holiday stress has somewhat faded, and you have taken care of your pressing commitments. You just want to do something you enjoy. What would you do?  More generally, what do you do when you have nothing else to do?

Here’s another approach. Doing something because you’re passionate about it is another way of saying  you would stick to your passion despite obstacles. So what would you skip dinner for? What will do even if you’re tired and hungry? What activities so absorb you that you might fall asleep doing them? (No, sex doesn’t count. That kind of passion is for another post). In what activities do you experience a sensation of flow?

Or consider your senses: taste, touch, smell, vision, hearing, proprioception (our sense of our own bodies) and empathy (our sense of other peoples’ states of mind).  In what modalities do you feel especially sensitive or receptive? How do your special receptivities relate to the activities you identified before?

I hope this helps you identify the concrete activities that might make up your passions. If thinking about passion doesn’t help, try doing something and see how it feels. Let me know.