This morning my two year old brought what he called a ‘box’ in to our bedroom. It was in fact a bucket that contained toy musical instruments - you know the type, small plastic pan pipes, a colourful rain stick, a Saxophone shaped whistle, a lollipop shaped device connected to two pieces of string with a bobble on the end that drum the lollipop head when you spin the stick in your hands, an old microphone, a single Maraca, elastic-band connected Castanets, and a couple of infiltrators in the guise of two light plastic balls and a toy motorcycle.
Each of the musical toys were taken out of the bucket and 'played' for perhaps 15 seconds each, which eventually left him with an empty bucket. Naturally, the bucket went on his head. Which caused him to generate his own 'musical' noise and had his eight year old sister come to see what was going on. After the fun in the two them alternately wearing the bucket had run out of steam, it became a receptacle for target practice with the two balls.
If I'd been analysing the child growth potential or even simply the length of time these toys stayed entertaining, the bucket (box) would have won hands down! Just another case of the wrapping paper being more exciting than the now cast aside toy it once wrapped.
But more importantly, the typical adult perspective would have seen the bucket as a container for all the fun important stuff. Earlier this week I attended the Instant MBA workshop run by Nicholas Bate and right at the start, when he's reminding us to start thinking, he showed how we see patterns everywhere and those patterns unconsciously restrict our thinking - after all it's what our brains are fabulous at doing - sorting and categorising the world into understandable chunks.
A simple illustration is the nine-dot puzzle that shows how we need to think out of the box - we see a box, a naturally constraining pattern, so we want to fit the solution into it. For Nicholas of course this was just a side note in the opening of this excellent workshop based on his similarly excellent Instant MBA book - you'll find a version on his blog too which is well worth adding to your subscribed list.
So, if you're in need of a different solution, take a look at your unconscious assumptions - like meetings at work are always organised in a room with a table, chairs & a projector for a minimum of 30 minutes (the default length of an Outlook Calendar invite) - there's a bunch of patterns that tampered with might lead to a different and better outcome!
“It’s not about service - it’s about the experience”
This quote is from Nicholas’ book ‘Instant MBA: Think, Perform and Earn Like a Top Business School Graduate’ which I’m about a 3rd the way through. Nicholas is a master of distilling the essence of an idea down to something you can use, usually quickly. At first pass when I read this I thought it was an obvious point, but I don’t think it is – customer service is just one element of the experience.
Nicholas has a series of related blog posts on the differentiators for the new world of work that’s worth a read.
I’d estimate that I first benefited from Nicholas Bate’s teaching in around 1995 when I attended one of his training courses. I was struck by how different the course was from typical corporate training. For example, Nicholas was the first trainer I’d met that focused on improving you as an individual in order that your work may benefit – rather than on specific work related skills that are still the more typical focus. Both are of course required but the former will also help you find the right work as well as do your work right.
I discovered only recently that Nicholas was an author – quite prolific as it turns out with 18 or more titles! ‘Being the BestBeing the Best’ was my first, the first of many I’m sure. This one fits in to a category that I call ‘10 minutes a day’ books.
It’s quite literally an A-Z, each letter of the alphabet associated with a word and a few pages of description – A is Attention, B is Belief, C is Compass, … N is Niche… V is Vision etc. Where each section is easy to read and full of the most profoundly sensible suggestions and advice.
You shouldn’t underestimate the the highly accessible format. On that training course back in 1995 the attendees walked away with a compass – a reminder of what I think is the most important lesson in the book. I’m not sure I realised quite how fundamentally important, thank goodness for ‘Being the Best – The A-Z of Personal Success’ for reminding me!
Format: BookBook, 200 pages
Author: Nicholas Bate
Incidentally, Nicholas has a great blog you should check out on the Business of Life + Life of Business
-Markp.s. ‘work’ here is meant in the broadest sense whether it’s as the owner/manager of a business, part-time charity work, a job, running a household, whatever… everyone should enjoy their work. If you don’t, change something - your approach, your attitude, your work… If you’re not doing your ideal work, you’re probably holding a space that is someone else's ideal.