I was recently listening to a very wise woman share a very interesting story about how we might see the world in which we inhabit differently and how art and artists are able to shake things up and surprise us.

She was throwing out the challenge, in order to grow in insight we need to see things differently and we need surprises to gain new perspectives. She suggested that we only see the world as we know the world and the job of the artist is to throw our thinking off kilter so we can start thinking about things differently. We were then asked this question:

“What thoughts and feelings do you have when you see a plastic bag or piece of fabric floating around in a blustery wind?”

I thought of rubbish, waste, another chocking animal and felt annoyed.

She then showed this video from the Artist Daniel Wurtzel:

What a surprise…talk about throwing thinking off kilter! I now saw these same objects very differently. I was really surprised by its impact upon me, both cognitively and emotionally. What was a misfit, now became something of beauty. Her statement was definitely true in this instance and it was a wonderful surprise.

It got me thinking though how often do I position myself to see things differently, what surprises me and how often I am surprised? Being surprised is where true innovation can have its origin as it leads us to new ideas, new ways of thinking and untapped solutions. I decided, there and then, I needed to be surprised more often. But how was I to plan a surprise?

Well here are a couple of sure-fire ways!

  1. Todd Sampson suggested this one at a Business Chicks breakfast: offer your team/family a 20min ‘no suggestion is off limits’ brainstorming session around the problem or issue. I would get everyone to write or think about his or her ideas first and then record them as a group so that all ideas are captured with equal worth, as you don’t want to lose any.
  2. Take you challenge to a bunch of children, offer them the issues, let them devour it and return some great ideas and solutions to you.

In both of this instances you will be surprised and new perspectives will be guaranteed. All you have to do is action what seems best to you and your team. Trust me when I say it might be risky, but it is well worth the disruption.

Right, enough reading, go and find your surprise – it will change the colour of your day!

 Side note: Since this experience I have seen bags floating around in the winter breeze, I now think very differently about the object, as it dances across the skyline, and am reminded how important new perspectives are in my life…I say never loose an opportunity, even plastic bags can shift old ways of thinking.

Yours in surprise,

Rod