What Mangroves Taught Me About Creative Ideas

Jenni Kowal
What Mangroves Taught Me About Creative Ideas

This past week I was lucky to celebrate my cousin’s wedding with my family in Key West. This was my first time visiting, and honestly just being in the warm weather was enough to refill my cup and fuel some creative ideas. (However, the beautiful flora and fauna this town displays and time with my family didn’t hurt either.)

One thing I did not want to miss was taking a boat out into the sea. On my last day, I had an evening flight, so I booked a “sail/kayak/snorkel” tour. We sailed out towards the Key West National Wildlife Refuge and took our kayaks around “Mule Key”, which was essentially just a mangrove island. The only inhabitants of this island were birds and marine life that swam around it. (It sounded like a scene from Jurassic Park with some very interesting bird sounds.)

Here are some mangrove facts from Wikipedia:

  • A mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water.
  • Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees, also called halophytes, and are adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions
  • Mangrove forests move carbon dioxide “from the atmosphere into long-term storage” in greater quantities than other forests, making them “among the planet’s best carbon scrubbers” according to a NASA-led study based on satellite data
  • Mangrove swamps protect coastal areas from erosion, storm surge (especially during hurricanes), and tsunamis


Pretty cool, huh? They act as protectors of our coastal lands AND provide us with clean air.

OK, so why am I talking about mangroves?

One of the COOLEST things about mangroves not mentioned about is that their seeds will germinate while still on the parent tree. (Seeds usually germinate in soil) When it is mature, the seedling will drop into the ocean and can transport great distances for UP TO A YEAR!

A year to find a suitable environment to take root.

It might try to take root, find the environment unfavorable, and keep on moving.

Those seedlings are patient.

MANGROVE SEEDLINGS = CREATIVE IDEAS

Our creative ideas take time to develop inside ourselves, and when it’s time to let them free into the wild, it might take time for them to find the proper environment to thrive. And if the first environment isn’t working, then it’s time to move on.

But first, we must let them free. Holding on to them forever will not allow them the chance to explore and grow on their own.

I don’t think these mangrove seedlings have any fear – they have one goal: survive.

And our creative ideas want to float around and thrive, but are being held back by fear, insecurity, doubts, and skepticism. If you don’t let them go, they won’t have the proper time to float around and propagate when their time is right.

The Creative Cycle

  1. Grow | Start fostering a creative space for your ideas
  2. Drop | Talk to people, take surveys, share online, research next steps
  3. Float | Take your findings and build an action plan
  4. Take Root | Create.
  5. Repeat

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