A few years ago when everything was in black and white, an Art Director of my acquaintance found himself in an unscheduled closeted meeting with many, many drinks.
The cocktail list was limited, but just varied enough to generate all those feelings of experiment and excitement and fun that sustain unwise activities.
Yet a very wise observation was the result.
He and his companions began to note the true constraints of that list.
A deceptively limited range of ingredients was offered within the assorted combinations.
‘Just like that bloomin image library we’re all using’ he mused.
And we were away.
He was living through, he said, the gradual reduction in the visual bravery and imagination of his teams – and himself – because everyone was working with the same cocktail ingredients.
Everyone was drinking from the same well. (An obvious analogy in retrospect)
This came back to me the other day in a Leadership development session. (No cocktails)
Everyone was very certain of their own positions, the approaches available, and of what was possible.
All were working, of course, with the same ‘inputs’.
Perhaps none of us have realised the subtle unintended consequences of gradually reducing the ingredients, the limits, the stimulus with which we work – whatever our field – over time.
It’s not that the work is impoverished. (Although it surely is.)
It’s that our identification with what we have in our hands seems to become stronger: too strong.
In the absence of fresh experience and perspective, we hold the cocktail we have chosen as a sort of self-identifier.
And find it more and more strange to imagine, whether that is a different point of view or a different self.
Sure, it takes a bit of effort to keep encouraging new ingredients and possibilities to flow into your working life. But it’s vital.
First step might be to create from experimental ingredients a brand new cocktail.
Called ….’Possibility Generator’ perhaps?