Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus – and it’s You!

By Shlomo  Maital


  One of my Coursera students (Cracking the Creativity Code) writes, in a chat forum,

“I was a college professor who had to retire at age 45 due to illness. I am now 55 and happy.  My best advice to you is to branch away from your comfort zone.  For instance I was a biostatistician (loved it)    and am now a digital artist (self taught, I am bringing the two together through infographics”. 

   Thank you “Virginia”.   You show us that, Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus – and it is YOU.  You have successfully used Stephen Johnson’s clever method, known as the “adjacent possible”.   Change your field.  Move far enough away to make it interesting and challenging, but not so far away as to be impractical and impossible.  When you do this well and successfully,  “Santa” showers the gift of energy and passion on you.  

   The key is to leave your comfort zone. It is super comfortable to remain in that old familiar rut, doing again and again what you always did.   Trying new stuff is risky and uncomfortable, because at first you inevitably fail, and many of us are so used to permanent success, we cannot imagine doing anything poorly. 

   Try an imaginary exercise.  Lying in bed at night, before you fall asleep – think to yourself,  what could I do, that is different, different enough to be just possible (but hard),  not so different as to be clearly unfeasible?  Dream it.

    Then, do it.