If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. – Master Lin Chi
We fall in love with ideas. Especially ones that we have found bring us an incredible amount of success. It’s the wrong thing to do, for any length of time.
Henry Ford I read learned this the hard way. Hugely successful in making cars, but Ford only allowed one color to be readily available. He thought it was the only formula that worked and never changed it. He clouded his ability to see that post WW I consumers wanted something other than black. They wanted variety. As a result, he lost market share to his competition.
I’ve fallen in love with ideas before. I’ve learned from that two negative things happened:
- I started to use it everywhere like a multi-tool thinking it would bring me value everywhere. I even let it into places where it was inappropriate in it’s application.
- I was blind to seeing the merits of alternative things or ideas. Several approaches I passed up that might have been even better than the one I thought so successful. Opportunity after opportunity went by.
The point of the quote I started off with today can teach us a lesson. If we turn that teacher into a secret fetish we really don’t see the essence of the teacher. Just like winning ideas, if we embrace them to closely, we can suffocate them and they lose their true impact.
Today was a great day for me to self-reflect backwards on the very busy week I just had. I took that reflection time and came to a realization that the work and strategies that went into it being so successful had a high potential of not working this week. There’s another quote that has stuck with me over the years that states (completely paraphrasing here) that what worked yesterday will not work today.
One of the best things we can do daily and weekly is to let go of a previously cherished idea or strategy. Only then can you begin to be free to think of others. You get to really take a different look inside and tear it into the parts you really loved and why you loved them. Then you can let them go and build again. Eliminating favorites from your life can really free you up to come up with more ideas.
I’ve been reading a lot about design. A really renowned graphic designer Paul Rand had an approach to his designs. When it didn’t feel quite the way he wanted it he would take out his favorite part of the design and set it apart from the whole project. Sometimes it improved the the design. Other times it completely fell apart. But Rand felt so strongly that this made him a better designer because it freed him up to see other alternatives. Here’s one of the most iconic, simplistic logo designs Paul Rand created with this strategy that we’ve all come to know:
(ABC Designed 1962, Paul Rand)
What can you kill off as you look at this past week? What’s a favorite that you’re trying to bring into this week? Find that, set it aside, and free yourself to come up with something completely different this week. I’d love for you to share below in the comments section what that might be. Then next week come back and put the ideas you had in the comments again. I’d like to see how you were able to find alternatives different from the ones you used in the previous week.
As always, thanks for the views. You inspire me.