Burying Ideas to Turn Them into Treasures

Edna Ferber wrote, “A story must simmer in its own juices for months or even years before it is ready to be served.” Similarly, some of our best ideas do not come to us for instant action. Using Ferber’s metaphor, they take time to simmer. This might be time for us to grow into the ideas, to discover new aspects of the idea through future experiences, or for the context/situation to become right for the idea.

I’ve come to think of this using a different metaphor. I call this burying ideas. It is different from giving up on an idea. We still believe in the idea, even have hope that it will be put into action one day, but we recognize that now is likely not the time for it. So, we turn it into a buried treasure, something that we intend to uncover when the time is right.

I’ve had many ideas that came to mind over a decade before I saw opportunity to act upon them. I studied digital culture, blended learning, and online learning for almost eight years early in my career. I remember contacting eight different Universities, sharing a few of my ideas and the promising possibilities, but none shared my excitement. While I dabbled with these areas, it was really eight years of reading, studying, observing, and waiting before the first major opportunity arose to put these ideas into action. In fact, at the time when the opportunity first arose, I almost passed it up. I was a high school classroom teacher, and I expected to do that for the rest of my life.

Of course, it is not always easy to know when to bury an idea and when to act on it right away. There is something to be said for taking initiative, planning, and acting sooner than later. Yet, there is also something to be said for letting go. Burying an idea is sometimes what it takes to gain the perspective necessary to turn your idea into a treasure to share with the world.

Where did this come from? Well, let’s just say that I’ve spent time lately reflecting about a close friend who is in the business of turning buried things into treasures.


Posted in blog, editorials

About Bernard Bull

Dr. Bernard Bull is a President of Goddard College, author, podcast host, and blogger. Some of his books include Missional Moonshots: Insights and Inspiration for Educational Innovation, What Really Matters: Ten Critical Issues in Contemporary Education, and Adventures in Self-Directed Learning. He is passionate about futures in education; leaner agency, educational innovation, and social entrepreneurship in education.