Yesterday I came across a really “big” idea and a name for it that I had not heard before. Its relevance excited me, and I was off reading about it for an hour, seeking connections, determined to learn more about it, deciding to start a new “ideas” journal to explore it further. Then I found out the term was also used to describe a mental illness! But more about that another time.
In my January 25 Blog, I mentioned Metaphors We Live By (by Lakoff and Johnson ), and the way the words we use both shape and communicate our thinking. So what about “big”? Because, like the term I was researching yesterday, the BIG in “big idea” can be either really positive, or devastatingly negative.
Think back to when you were a kid… big mouth, big shot, big liar, big cheater, big suck, big whatever… big was something to be avoided. Oh, and the ultimate term of disgust and dismissal… big hairy deal! This had nothing to do with size. The metaphor was about scale or degree. The big house is the penitentiary. There are big storms, big fires, big accidents, big operations, big mistakes, big stories, big arguments.
So, what’s the big deal?
I remember my father standing over me, hands on hips, red faced with anger, demanding “what’s the big idea?” This was just one step below “who do you think you are?” and one above “where are you going?” When the big idea was invoked, I knew I was in big trouble!
But now “the big idea” is the holy grail of entrepreneurship, much to be desired, to be sought and nourished and developed, but most of all, cashed in on!
The “big idea” has been rehabilitated, but I still have to learn how the big idea that intrigued me yesterday can be both a respected philosophical concept and a dreaded psychological state.
Do you have a story about “big”? Or, better still, a big idea to share with us?