I recently had the chance to visit France for two weeks of fun, baguettes and sightseeing.
I found myself taking the Metro and looking at the Advertisements for many different movies, TV programs, products and services. All in French. As someone who does not speak french, I was looking at them, trying to figure out what they might be selling or advertising....
Then I realized; I am usually annoyed by large ads and commercials. It bothers be how much they assault my senses. And they are EVERYWHERE. It feels like a violation of my sanctity. But in France - when I couldn’t actually understand what was being said, I found myself looking at them, analyzing them and trying to see if I could decipher what they were for! It was a game.
Which made me wonder - why is it that when I can read the language on the ad I am annoyed, but when I can’t I’m fascinated. The actual understanding is what stops me from appreciating the art of it, the pretty picture, and the composition.
So here’s the game to play: Pretend you are in France. When you see that billboard, stop reading it, and look at it as if it were a foreign language. What comes out? What do you see what you didn’t before? What subliminal message, or great artistic layout did you get to experience that you wouldn’t have before.
And most importantly - are you annoyed by the ads? I found that when I played this game with myself after I got back, I was making a choice to not be assaulted by ads. I made the choice not be annoyed. I could actually choose to like the art that people were proving me. And it’s my choice: I can be annoyed, or I can be inquisitive.
So make a choice. And see what it does to your day.
I recently emcee’d an event on Vashon Island here in Washington State. As my Fiancé and I walked around and looked in cute little shops, I saw this sign.
It might seem simple, but it hit me - ‘what am I waiting for?’
Too often we set measurements: I can’t launch this business till the website and cards are done. I can’t start exercising till I get new running shoes. I can’t take that class I want to take until i have more time at work.
All these items are just excuses why you can’t be the you that you want to be. The you that you can be. We can always find justifications for why things don’t work, but how do we justify makings thing happen? The practice is finding a way to re-frame that discussion into:
If you’re waiting for a sign, THIS IS IT.
•Make a list
One of the biggest lessons that I teach to business clients is the lesson of accepting and building, the shorthand for which is ‘yes, and.’ Most clients say that saying ‘yes, and’ is impossible in their business. My reply is, “then you will never know what is under the van…”
What’s Under the Van?
At least twice a year someone will run into the office at my small non-profit theater, very excited with a new idea. They say “we should get an old van, and paint it yellow and put our company logo on the side! Then we can drive it around to a baseball game and hand out stuff!”
Now, when this happens, I have a choice; I can say “No, that’s a stupid idea“ (BTW – not a good response to say no matter what lesson you are trying to impart…) or “well, that’s an expensive idea…” or I can ‘yes, and‘ their offer. When I can ‘yes, and’ their offer by saying “wow, that’s a great idea… what do you think that would accomplish?” I can start to get to the root issue;
“well, it would get more people seeing our logo..”
“Right! Good idea – do you feel that people don’t see it enough now?”
“well, I think we could have more brand recognition…”
“Cool! Let’s see, how else could we get that same brand recognition…”
By accepting and building, I can get to the root of the issue that the person is bringing up – that we need to increase our public facing marketing. Once we have the root of the issue, or what’s under the van, we can that start to address that.
The van is a symptom of the issue. And a lot of offers that people find are just that – symptoms. They may have identified an issue, and a possible solution, and the solution is a manifestation of that. Sometimes, they are not even aware of the issue that caused the solution – they just have the manifestation of that issue that came to them. Or maybe they know the issue, but haven’t quite articulated it yet.
So next time you have the urge to shoot down and idea – ask yourself; “If I don’t accept and build on this offer, how can I find out what’s under the van?”
And if you don’t know what’s under the van, you can’t address the real issues happening on the floor at your company.