Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World)

Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World)

by Mitchell Lewis Ditkoff

NOOK Book(eBook)

$10.99 $13.99 Save 21% Current price is $10.99, Original price is $13.99. You Save 21%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now
LEND ME® See Details


“Mitch Ditkoff has created a GPS for the innovation process. Awake at the Wheel is a witty and inspiring roadmap for the journey from ideas to invention!” (Donna Fenn, author of Alpha Dogs)
Awake at the Wheel is a book about ideas: what they are, where they come from, and what it takes to manifest them in a world not always ready for the new and the different. Simply put, it's a book about possibility, about the wellspring of creation, about the strange and fascinating process we all go through whenever we have an idea and try to do something about it. And while it's often said that “ideas are a dime a dozen,” the fact is that your idea—the one you can't get out of your head—is priceless. That is, IF you make the kind of effort required to turn that top of the line idea into a bottom line reality. Maybe it’s an idea for a new business. Maybe it’s an idea for a new product . . . or invention . . . or a book you want to write . . . or a school you want to open . . . or a move you want to make. Maybe it's an idea for something that will change the world . . . or if not THE world, then YOUR world. Whatever it is, one thing is clear: it's time for you to take the next step. Now!
“A superb catalyst for anyone with the urge to bring their best ideas into reality.” —Tim Gallwey, author of The Inner Game of Tennis and The Inner Game of Work

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781600377709
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 05/01/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 117
File size: 366 KB

About the Author

Mitchell Lewis Ditkoff is the co-founder and President of Idea Champions, a leading edge management consulting and training company. He specializes in leading highly engaging creative thinking and collaboration sessions that enable individuals, teams and entire organizations to develop new products, services, and breakthrough ways of doing business. Educated at Lafayette College and Brown University. Since 1986 Mr. Ditkoff has been working with a wide variety of Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies who have recognized the need to do something different in order to succeed in today's rapidly changing marketplace. These clients include: GE, Merck, Allianz, Lucent, NBC Universal, AT&T, Goodyear, Pfizer, A&E Television Networks, General Mills, MTV Networks, Duke Corporate Education, Infosys, Ernst & Young, Moen, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. At the heart of his work lies the fundamental belief that a company's most important capital asset is the collective brain power, creativity and commitment of its work force and that this asset can be significantly leveraged when people are provided with the appropriate setting, systems, tools and techniques to think (and act) out of the box. Prior to his work with Idea Champions, Mr. Ditkoff was a principal in Ki Learning Systems and a Senior Consultant with the Inner Game Corporation - both organizational development firms dedicated to catalyzing superior performance in the workplace. In addition to his consulting work, Mr. Ditkoff is also an accomplished public speaker and writer. Author of Banking on Innovation, Free the Genie, It's AHAppening! and co-author of Ingenuity Bank, the next generation in idea management software, Mr. Ditkoff has appeared on numerous radio and television talk shows. Additionally, he is a poet and founder of Face the Music, the world's only interactive business blues band. He lives in Woodstock, New York, with his artist wife, Evelyne, and their two children, Jesse (12) and Emilia (9).

Read an Excerpt


Og Gets an Idea

Once upon a time there was a caveman named Og who had a Big Idea. It was such a Big Idea, in fact, that Og found it hard to sleep at night. Hard to sleep and hard to hunt and hard to do just about anything but think about his Big Idea. He thought, of course, about telling someone – his best friend, Ugh, perhaps, or Aargh, his devoted wife – but he just couldn't bring himself to do it, not quite sure they would actually understand.

Back then, when men were men and stones were stones, even the idea of an idea was hard to grasp. You see, for hundreds of years people had pretty much done the same thing day after day: Crouch around fires, club slow-moving animals, gorge themselves on bear meat. Most people back then didn't see the need to improve anything and those who did rarely "thought outside the cave" as Og was fond of saying.

"A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock pile when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind."

— St. Exupery

But not Og. Og liked ideas. Og loved ideas.

He loved them more than anything else. More than hunting. More than bear meat. More than sitting around the fire on a cold winter night and chewing the fat. Because the way Og saw it, ideas – unlike the prey he chased day after day – came to him. And at the oddest of times. Just before sleep. Just upon waking. Even in his dreams. In fact, it was during these times – when he least expected it – that Og began to get the first clues about his Big Idea – faint clues, as if a friend, many miles away, was sending him smoke signals no one else could see.

"To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act."

— Anatole France

"Why is it I always get my best ideas while shaving?"

— Albert Einstein


Dazed By the Possibilities

At first Og thought it was indigestion, or worse, some kind of mid-life escape from reality – a luxury no self-respecting caveman could afford, not with winter coming on. He felt dizzy Confused. Dazed by the possibilities. It wasn't long before Og became consumed with his idea. So much so, that he soon lost interest in everything else: Hunting with his best friend, Ugh, carving bear teeth for Ogle, his son – even pounding on his hairy chest.

To the rest of the tribe, Og was naramp poozka. He had "rocks in his head." While they foraged and hunted, Og "what iffed" – much to the Neanderthalic confusion of everyone else. "What if we were all like Og," they grumbled. "We would starve to death before the next big snow."

"No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered."

— Winston Churchill

And so they ignored him, afraid to death that they might catch whatever it was he had.



So worried was Aargh, Og's devoted wife, that she sought the council of Morf, the local medicine woman. Morf was the wisest of women and knew how to read even the most stoic caveman's face. Tuned in as she was, Morf had already heard about Og and was intrigued – especially about his curious habit of spending his days walking in circles and drawing strange little pictures on the walls of his cave.

And so she tracked Og down, fell into step behind him, and followed. Walked and watched. Watched and walked. Trailed along behind him wherever he went – saying nothing, doing nothing, just matching his movement step by step.

One week passed. Then another. And another still.

And then, with absolutely no warning one bright Neanderthalic day as they circled round and round near the mouth of Og's cave, Morf could no longer contain herself.

"Crank — a man with a new idea before it succeeds."

— Mark Twain

"Og has an ideal" she blurted out. "And a huge one at that. A wooly mammoth of an idea!"

"What is now proved was once only imagined."

— William Blake

Aargh was dumbfounded. "Idea?" she asked, combing her hair with an armadillo quill. "What mean you, 'idea'"?

Ugh nervously tapped his club on the ground. "Is it ... contagious?"

Ogle winced. "Is my father going to be all right?"

But Morfjust laughed. "Idea good. Idea very good! I no understand it yet, but Og seems ... well ... better than usual. His eyes are brighter. He's standing tall. He's making excellent use of his opposable thumb. Frankly, I haven't seen anyone this alive since Crouch.


The Grunt of the Town

Word spread like the rumor of bad reindeer meat. Og, quite simply, had become the grunt of the town. But none of this mattered to him in the least. He was in another world, content to ponder, muse, imagine, and think. Content, indeed, to do nothing at all but stare at the moon.

And so it went, Og wandering in circles no one else was a part of, mumbling to himself, while the rest of the tribe went about their prehistoric business.

That is, until Ugh – Og's best friend – unable to bear the mystery any longer, tracked him down one cool night beneath a quarter moon.

"Where did you get it?" Ugh demanded, his brow deeply furrowed.

"Get what?" replied Og.

"Ideal" said Ugh. "Where did you get your Big Idea?"

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

— Albert Einstein

Og shook his head. "You no understand. Me not get idea. Idea get me."

"Few people think more than two or three times a year. I've made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week."

— G.B. Shaw

Ugh just stood there. Stone-faced.

"Is true," Og went on. "Idea came to me. Like rain. Like dream. Like snake between rocks."

Ugh nodded, but didn't know why. Like the rest of the tribe, Ugh wanted to find fault with Og, but couldn't no matter how hard he tried. Maybe it was something about the look in Og's eye or the fact that the two of them had grown up in neighboring caves. Whatever it was, Ugh couldn't stop from nodding his head. Nodding and listening. Listening and nodding. And the more he did, the more Og spoke. And the more Og spoke, the more they both began to understand what this Big Idea was all about.

After the first hour, Ugh somehow knew he didn't need to nod anymore. Just raising an eyebrow was enough to keep Og talking.

And that is how the two friends passed the night: Ugh listening, Og talking – the idea, like a gathering storm in the distance, coming more and more into focus.

"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow."

— Plato


Og Gets Around to It

Time passed. Antelope season turned to lizard season. Lizard season turned to rabbit season. And Aargh, Og's still devoted wife, was getting angrier by the minute.

"Husband! Talk to me. Mumble! Grunt! Anything! Me have no idea what's gotten into you. Norkle pfft. Our relationship has hit rock bottom.

Og smiled, making Aargh's displeasure worse.

"Not time," he said. "Me not ready. And more than that, idea not ready."

Aargh shrugged. Aargh rolled her eyes. Aargh looked away. Aargh did all the things a woman knows how to do to make her man talk.

Og grunted, turned in her direction and spoke. "OK. I will tell you. But you must tell no one. No one! Do you hear?"

Og took his wife's hand and pulled her to the entrance of their cave, pointing to the full moon overhead.

"I invent nothing. I rediscover."

— August Rodin

"See that?" he asked.

"Yes," she replied.

"What shape it?"

"I'll play it first and tell you what it is later."

— Miles Davis

"Moon shape."


Og drew a circle in the dirt. "What else moon shape?"

"Sun? But ..."

"Wait. Og not done. When tribe meets beneath full moon, how we sit?"

"We ... sit ... around the fire."

"Exactly," gushed Og. "We are moon shape. Sun shape."

Aargh was lost.

"You see, dear wife. There is something about round. It is everywhere we look."

"Me. ... no understand," answered Aargh."

You will," sighed Og. "You will."

"Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission."

— Peter Drucker


Og's Head Is Full, But The Cupboard Is Empty

It had been two months since Og hunted with the tribe – two months of pondering what Morf had called his "Big Idea." Two months of staring at sagebrush and the moon and seeing new connections between the two even he did not understand. Only the kindness of Ugh had kept meat on the table. But meat was not enough and Aargh was at her wit's end, egged on daily by her mother, Nudge, who had come to share their cave for the long, cold winter.

"Morgahinerm laku," groaned Aargh. "I cannot take it anymore. Everywhere I go, people grunt behind your back. Our cupboard is empty. Something must change – and soon!"

Og stroked his beard.

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, that is translated to you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost".

— Martha Graham

"Worry not, woman. I have gone to Honch2 and asked for time to speak idea at next Big Meating. Surely, this will make big difference.

Aargh turned the color of week-old antelope meat.

"Have you lost what's left of your mind, husband? You know what happens at those meatings! Remember how they treated Rrow, the one with the so-called arrowhead idea?"

"Oh ... yes. ... I do," chuckled Og, letting out a long slow whistle. "They never got the point, did they?"

"The act of creation is first of all an act of destruction."

— Pablo Picasso

"Never got the point?" Aargh shrieked. "They wouldn't let him complete a single sentence. He died a broken caveman."

"This be different," Og replied. "My idea better than arrowhead. Much better."


The Big Meating

The next few days flew by quickly Og doing his best to round out his idea, Aargh doing her best to round up new things for her mother to eat. And all the while the village was awash in rumors. Some said Og was crazy. Some said he was possessed. Others said he'd stolen something more precious than fire from the Gods. But Honch paid no attention, focused only on getting ready for the Big Meating – the time, beneath the next full moon, when the tribe would gather around the fire to bozong lamu — chew the fat.

The Meating began, as it had for years, with the ritual eating of bison feet and Honch raising his oversized "talking club" in his powerful right hand.

"Good people," he began, "we meat tonight at Og's request. He has, claims Morf, a Big Idea."

No one spoke.

"Some people have a way with words — others not have way."

— Steve Martin

"Before Idea Man begins," continued Honch, "let me remind you of the Meating Rules – handed down for centuries by our revered ancestors – just in case you feel the need to speak."

"The new idea either finds a champion or it dies. No ordinary involvement with a new idea provides the energy required to cope with the indifference and resistance that change provokes.

— Tom Peters

RULE #1: Chew first, listen later.

RULE #2: If you listen, do not listen long.

RULE #3: Make no eye contact.

RULE #4: Interrupt every chance you get.

RULE #5: Use humor like a weapon.

"Any questions? No? Good. Let's begin. Og?" Og stood to his full height and walked slowly around the circle. All eyes were not upon him.

"What I speak about tonight, dear friends, is not my idea. But neither did I steal it. It was given to me."

Blitz poked Oomph in the ribs.

Mook picked fleas from his beard.

Nuk passed more than judgment.

"I can tell by the look in your eyes that you have questions, but first I have one for you: How do you get from your cave to the forest when it's time to hunt?'" "Walk! "shouted Blitz. "We walk."

"Yes," replied Og. "And how do you get dead meat from forest back to caves?"

"More walk!" shouted Blitz again. "Walk and drag."

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind, there are few."

— Shunryu Suzuki

"Yes, again, my stoop-shouldered friend. And that is quite a drag, isn't it – trying to get all that meat such long distance? Well ... I have found a better way."

"Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts."

— Albert Einstein

Total silence.

Tribal silence.

The silence of people with small vocabularies and large foreheads.

"Better way?" bellowed Honch. "Better way? Not possible. We be walking and dragging for years."

Zook jumped to his feet, his face suddenly red. "It took Zook ten years to perfect dragging technique. Dragging good. Dragging very good."

Nimbo pulled Zook's hair. Honch yawned.

But Og kept on.

Reaching into his bearskin wrap, he pulled out a piece of tree bark with what seemed to be some kind of odd markings. Unfolding it once, twice, three times, he held it high overhead.

"Fellow hunters and gatherers, sons and daughters of Zilch. I introduce to you a way to improve all our lives and future of world – the wheel!"

"Man is so constituted as to see what is wrong with a new thing, not what is right. To verify this, you have but to submit a new idea to a committee."

— Charles Kettering

Nobody spoke.

Nobody spoken again.

"Looks like picture of stone sun to me," aligned Zoup.

"Hrumph," hrumphed Hrumph. "Three months wait for this? A picture of a ... round thing?"

But Og continued. "It not sun. It not moon. It is wheel- round thing that rolls ... a thing that moves along ground capable of carrying load with least amount of effort."

Honch laughed. Oomph laughed. Soon everyone was laughing.

"Wheel no good," barked Negoh. "It will roll away. Then gone."

"Wheel bad," barked Nuk. "Enemies take it. Then they will have it and we won't."

"Wheel worse than bad," added Bork. "We have no roads. What will wheel roll on?"

On and on it went. The darts. The arrows. The eyebrows raised like spears. Og shot a quick glance at Aargh. Then at Ugh. Then looked to the full moon overhead and bit his lip, a single tear in his left eye rolling slowly down his cheek.

"A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn. It can be stabbed to death by a quip, and worried to death by a frown on the right mans brow."

— Charlie Brower


The Path is Made By Walking on It

Og felt bad. Very bad. Bad as a caveman can feel. Dense like the age he lived in. Thick like his matted beard. The worse he felt, the more he wanted to run. Get away. Disappear. Leave the tribe once and for all.

Aargh was the first to notice Og was having a hard time, but had no idea what to do. If she approached her husband, he would only retreat further into their cave. If she ignored him, he would feel abandoned – and she would lose him once again to the deepest caverns of his own disappointment.

It was into this world of prehistoric bewilderment that Ogle, Og's only son, appeared.

"Big Daddy," he said. "What wrong?"

Og could barely hear the boy, consumed as he was by endless images of spinning and rolling.

Og looked at Ogle, then to his feet, then to the hundreds of pictures he had drawn on the walls.

"There is only one thing stronger than all the armies in the world and that is an idea whose time has come."

— Victor Hugo

But he didn't look long, his looking now interrupted by a sound at the entrance of the cave. It was Ugh, breathing much faster than normal. "Og! Big news. Me have big news. It is Crouch! He has sent for you!"

"Conclusions arrived at through reasoning have very little or no influence in altering the course of our lives."

— Carlos Casteneda

"Crouch?" Og repeated, turning around. "Crouch?"

"Yes. Him" said Ugh, "Crouch has heard of your idea. Wants to see you. Now!"

"But. ... Crouch lives far away, high in mountains, many days from here."

Ugh moved in quick circles, trying to think of something to say.

"Crouch knows, my friend. He knows!"

"Not possible," said Og. "And not only that, there's no way there! No way. No road. No path."

Ugh opened his mouth to reply, but it was Ogle who spoke.

"Big Daddy, do not worry. Crouch is closer than you think. And besides, isn't the path made by walking on it?"

"Do not be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You cant cross a chasm in two small jumps."

— David Lloyd George


Excerpted from "Awake at the Wheel"
by .
Copyright © 2008 Mitchell Lewis Ditkoff.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter # 1: Og Gets an Idea,
Chapter # 2: Dazed By the Possibilities,
Chapter # 3: Aargh!,
Chapter # 4: The Grunt of the Town,
Chapter # 5: Getting Around To It,
Chapter # 6: Og's Head Is Full, But the Cupboard Is Empty,
Chapter # 7: The Big Meating,
Chapter # 8: The Path Is Made By Walking On It,
Chapter # 9: Crouch,
Chapter #10: An Arrow to the Heart of the Matter,
Chapter #11: Nothing to Get,
Chapter #12: Smoke From a Fire, Flakes From a Stone,
Chapter #13: The Happy Accident,
Chapter #14: The Center Is Everything,
Chapter #15: Sleeping Like a Rock,
Chapter #16: Follow Your Feet,
Chapter #17: Everyone's Turn,
WHAT OG LEARNED: 12 Wheely Good Best Practices,
TOOLING UP: 35 Ways to Get the Wheels Turning,
WRITING IT IN STONE: The Tools and Techniques Contest,
NEXTING: How to Invent the Future,
STAYING ON A ROLL: Resources for Thinking Outside the Cave,
OGCASTING: Your Free Audio Bonus,

Customer Reviews