Fast forward to the summer of 2013. I was the Director of the Georgia Governor's Honors Program, a phenomenal summer program for gifted and talented high school juniors and seniors. (I attended as a student in 1970 as an art major, and it changed my life forever as we say in the trade.)
After classes are over for the day, the students have a huge array of activities called seminars to keep them busy. (We told parents that our motto was "A tired child is a good child.") Most of the seminars are created by the resident assistants as part of their job, but any faculty or staff can join in.
As it happened, two Lichtenbergians were visiting for a week, and there were five of us already there. I posted a seminar on Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, booked a room, and did a quick slide presentation. On the day, the room was packed with about 70 teenagers.
I introduced the group, ran through who G. C. Lichtenberg was, and then threw up each of the Nine Precepts as a single, elegant term on the screen:
- Task Avoidance
- Abortive Attempts
- Successive Approximation
- Waste Books
- Steal From the Best
(This is the original order of the precepts. I have rearranged them into a more logical sequence for the book and this website.)
I'd explain each one, and then the Lichtenbergians would tell about how they were able to use the concept in their professional life as well as their creative life. It was great fun, and the kids just soaked it up. As one of the Lichtenbergians said in awe, "They were taking notes!"
Of course they were. This is important stuff, and it was the first time anyone had told them it was OK not to try to produce perfection on command.
"This went well," I thought. "I should write a book."