While I’m still officially on vacation, today was a day spent catching up…on laundry, housework, email, and some reading. I’ve been reading Onward, (a Christmas gift from my sister) Howard Schultz’ book about Starbucks and his realization that his company had lost its way. He describes the journey to transform Starbucks to be forward thinking, innovative, and successful “…without losing its soul” as requiring hard work, strategic planning, collaborative effort, and respect for employees and customers. I’m only about a third of the way through the book, but I find his willingness to sacrifice short term gains for the greater long term good interesting and thought provoking.
I also read an article today entitled, We Need to Talk about TED, about a recent TED talk by Benjamin Bratton where he talks about how little action results from the ideas presented in TED talks. He describes the ways that TED talks oversimplify the problems we are confronted with and overly rely on inspiration as the take-away from their viewing. If we talk about problems in inspiring ways, those problems will be solved. Bratton talks about the folly of seeing problems as a puzzle to be solved–implying that all the pieces are already here, ready to be assembled…and that this is a barrier to solving the very problems that need solving. This talk definitely is worth thinking about…I know I’ll be giving it some more consideration.
This week’s Word a Week Photo Challenge is Gap, so as I was thinking about my reading, I was also looking through the pictures I have taken in the last few days for an image to capture gap.
I found myself thinking about gaps…gaps in understanding, gaps between problems and actions, gaps between beliefs and reality. The word gap tends to give a negative connotation to space…it implies that something is missing, not closed properly, maybe even dangerous.
When I looked at this picture taken on the beach a few days ago, I saw the gap…and I saw the possibility that is positioned around the gap. I also see the beauty in the gap, the space for imagination and innovation and appreciation of the complexity that surrounds us.
I also read a short article today, Use Language to Shape a Creative Culture, arguing that changing language from negative to positive can dramatically impact the culture of the workplace (and other places as well). I know that positive language makes a difference to me, it makes a difference in my classroom, and it makes a difference in our writing project. When we consider, “How might we…” instead of getting mired in all the potential barriers, we are able to come up with creative solutions and move from ideas to action.
I like the way the gap in this photo also highlights the bridge above it. I’m known to be optimistic…and yet I know that positive thinking alone doesn’t get things done. But I do know that believing that something is possible allows me to find a way to figure it out…to dig in, try some things, connect with others and learn from their efforts, and then step back and reevaluate my own efforts, make a new plan, and try again.
So maybe we need to analyze gaps and consider redefining them as spaces…spaces to leap over, spaces where a bridge might work, spaces for the wind to soar through. Change and action take effort, not just ideas. But we do need spaces for ideas to grow, so look for the gaps in your life that offer opportunity and beauty, and consider, “how might we…”