Why we should stand on desks more often... literally!
Quite a while back I was in a meeting where the discussion revolved around our need to change our current situation.
Somewhere in all of the banter, I said something along these lines, "Evolution will get us there but it will take time, whereas a revolution will get there much faster but it tends to be bloodier".
I of course thought it was particularly profound.
Let me say as a bit of an aside we are just talking about business here and people very rarely get bloodied and die...I want to stress this as it's an important point. As business people we do like to draw from the military for strategic framework, aspects of leadership, transferable tactics and particularly language, and although it may sometimes get a vague feel of what war is all about, it is just business. We need to remember no one dies and if you "take a bullet", you will get "a do over". In a real war, the outcome is much different.
OK, back to my profound statement* and the broader meaning behind it. We find ourselves always existing in three states (some more preferable than others):
the status quo, evolution or revolution.
Let me quickly speak to the state of status quo... other than an opportunity to catch your breath (mostly in a figurative sense), the status quo offers you nothing long term; the world (and everything about it) will change around you and you will become irrelevant** - I do not recommend the status quo as everything will pass you by.
Revolution will drive dramatic change and opportunity from great to awful, and like war can take on a life of it's own... it's uncontrollable, noisy and many times random in what it offers. Sometimes it is necessary but hold on tight; very tight. (As an aside, this is where "control is validated as an illusion").
So now we get to evolution, and being that I left it to the last it's a fair assumption that it is something that I want to spend some time on and offer up a thought or two. Up front, I will say I'm a fan of Darwin and his theories of adapting and evolving to an ever changing environment - We need to evolve to thrive. Unlike Darwin's evolution, in this context it needs to move much faster to prevent any slide into the status quo, or creating a situation that brings on the need for revolution. Why is that you may ask? The world is moving much faster, be it technology advances, communication or general globalization (which makes this big world a much smaller place) - This has created a necessity to speed up evolution just to keep up with the environment.
And finally we get to the desk - Sorry about meandering; well maybe not that sorry.
In the movie Dead Poets Society there is a scene where the teacher (Robin Williams) jumps up on his desk to make a point... I have attached the video, as it is my favorite scene in this great "coming of age" movie.
The video clip is packed with a number of messages but for me when he stands on his desk and asks "why", he offers hints as to how to speed up the evolution.
The answer is of course is,"to look at things differently and get a new perspective". Accelerating evolution comes through actively looking to evolve and not passively letting it happen over time.
A number of other points resonate.
When John Keating says, "if you know something, look at it a different way"... he reminds us to keep challenging what we know as we just might start seeing a different (or even better) way.
I also like when he tells a student "not to walk off the edge of the table so fast like a lemming, but look around" - A reminder that thinking and doing things differently is not an occasional effort but should be habitual.
I find Keating actually getting up on the desk the most powerful of all... an illustration of changing his perspective.
He didn't talk about getting up on the desk,
He got up on the desk, no talk... just "up".
An example of how art can challenge us, asking, "What exactly are you doing to see things differently and speed up our evolution?"
* Let me know if you don't if you don't find it that profound.
**Irrelevant is such a harsh word that means not connected with or relevant to something, but is what happens when you stand still as everything moves on. It's a great business word.