We borrow our identities when we give in to outside approval. It’s a counter-force to innovation. “What if they don’t like it?” squelches the courage to ship. We don’t need approval at the creative stage. In fact, we don’t need it at all unless we want to sell what we’ve made. Anyone knows that. Right?
And so we borrow the attention of anyone we can to ask for their approval. Over and over and over as in, “Did I get it right this time?” “How about this time?” My dog is persistent, but at some point he gives up, content to just be. I wonder if that’s okay for people, or is that a justification for self-doubt and just plain old fear of failure?
At a regular bank, we borrow money, use it, and pay it back. But when we borrow people’s time, we can never pay it back. Time is gone the minute it’s spent. One cannot be on “borrowed time.” There’s no future to borrow from. It’s not here. The past has been borrowed out. No saved minutes languish in reserve at the time bank. In fact, they’re always cleaned out by the, um, ravages of time.
Let’s be careful when we borrow. And we can be careful when people ask to borrow our time. But I know I need to be extra careful when I succumb to a borrowed identity. Shakespeare’s quote, that may start out as advice on lending money, actually uses the last three lines to advise the benefits of being ourselves. How did he know this? He probably faced it every day at his writing desk!
Act I, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
What happened? Did you hesitate? Didn’t you hear the gun go off? Did you look away for a moment? Well, these are takeoffs from a Jerry Seinfield routine, but when it’s close, second place hurts, and if it’s something stupid, it makes you nuts! Even so, for win, place, or show in horseracing, Gold, Silver or Bronze at the Olympics, the athletes “in the money” have different takes for sure.
The winner cannot be anything but happy. Right? Or not. Sometimes, they wonder if it’s a fluke. They ponder whether indeed the second place person just stumbled, and the second placer is really better after all. Then there’s the Silver Medal person. They worked just as hard. They practiced, bled, sacrificed, competed. Continue reading “Second Place?”
To achieve great things, two things are needed: A plan and not quite enough time. ~ Leonard Bernstein
I heard this Bernstein quote yesterday, but it didn’t sink in until the subconscious pulled it up to conscious. It’s plain awesome that this great American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer and pianist knew the value of running out of time. We all need a deadline to create the sense of urgency that fosters achievement. The show must go on, sometimes whether it’s ready or not. Powerful. It forces great things. It causes huge goofs, too. But we learn from our errors and achieve greatness because and in spite of them.
Did you read that IBM has made a movie? It’s called “A Boy and His Atom” and it’s a 90-second tribute to science, creativity, and (re)invention. IBM was the lumbering pachyderm star from the book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. written over eleven years ago now. The book was a testament to the fact that people and companies can change, even if they’re big and slow.
So what’s best about the movie? It doesn’t really have a lot to do with computing, but rather to do with science, trying something new, and putting it out into the world. Because they can.
So put something creative out into the world. Because you can.
I will if you will.
It might have started with Helena Bonham Carter (HBC) at the 2011 Golden Globes. OR before. HBC rocked the fashion world by wearing OMG mismatched shoes! Clearly on purpose, she chose one gray, and one red. Not to be confused with the time I went to work with one navy blue, and one black leather pump, having dressed in the winter dark morning, only to be mortified the WHOLE DAY LONG by my style gaffe.
I received my first on purpose mismatched pair from a friend in February of this year. Cute, I thought, and I love them. At a local high school last week, I sidled up to a student, and kidded her, asking if she was aware that her socks didn’t match. “Oh,” she said. “Mismatched socks are good luck.”
With that, three other girls in the classroom pulled up pant legs to reveal, very seriously, that they too had opted for good luck. Their socks did not match, and whoever added the “luck” factor deserves the you’re-an-awesome-marketer-good-for-you award.
Don’t know about you, but not only does this appeal to the environmental side of the universe, because we have plenty of sock orphans at our house, but also, it pays huge homage to the marketing theory of finding a new use for an old product. Adding the magic of “good luck” (wish I had thought of that), and you have a sock-it-to-you business that actually precedes HBC. Come to find out that one company alone (Little MissMatched) sells $5 million a year of mismatched stuff to a very rich target of “tweens” and teens.
Meanwhile, I look to the future of being daring enough to wear mismatched anything. My conservative self grew up wanting (because ours didn’t) for all the pieces of a place setting to match. Ask my mom.