The Big Game
Last night I watched the NY Giants beat the Green Bay Packers 23-20 in an NFL championship football game. I watched it with eight friends. As always, we had a fantastic time -- an experience that our wives (no matter how wonderful they may be) have never been able to truly fathom. Our viewing behavior, to them, is a merely a parody of the American male: two-dimensional, woefully predictable, and absurd.
That assessment, however, was not my experience last night. No way. On the contrary, my experience was noble, ecstatic, tribal, and divine. Beyond the pretzels, popcorn, chips, and beer something else was happening.
At the risk of making a mountain out of a football game, allow me to share a few observations about the experience and, by extension, the experience of millions of men huddled together before the Big Game. In that sacred act of viewing, NOTHING ELSE WAS HAPPENING! Zero. Nada. Zilch. No work. No bills. No back taxes. No car repairs. No war in Iraq. No recession. No primaries. No relationship issues. No cholesterol. No this and no that. Only The Game. Pure immersion it was. Spontaneous expression. Presence. Unbridled emotion. Liberated laughter. And the kind of concentration most yogis would trade their third eye for.
What, you may ask, has any of this to do with innovation -- the supposed topic of this supposed blog? Plenty. The state of mind (no, make that state of being), of last night's BIG GAME watching, pretzel munching men is exactly the state of being required by an individual, team, or organization in order to have even the slightest chance of innovating.
OK. Let's go to the slow motion, video replay of that last sentence: I'm talking focus, friends. I'm talking compelling goal. The experience of community. Uncensored delight. Resilience. Loyalty. Humor. Hope. Perseverance. The entertainment of possibility. And the soulful appreciation of each other.
Please don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about the common garden variety trance experience induced by watching TV or a movie. No. I'm talking about the BIG GAME. The "All In" moment. The Full Monte. The No Turning Back. The This Is It. The There's No Tomorrow. And all of it sprinkled with a healthy dose of pepperoni and celebration even before anyone knows the final score.
Yes, I admit, the eight of us didn't deliver anything as a result of watching the BIG GAME -- no output, no product, no proof that we had used our time well. But so what? When you're eating chips and experiencing the Unified Field of Consciousness on the day the Lord rested and time stops as your team huddles in the freezing cold, against all odds, to gather together one more time, focused on the goal and absolutely free of constraint, doubt, and delusion, what is there left to say except:
Giants 23, Packers 20. (And in overtime, yet!)January 03, 2008
View from a Creative Mind
Although we are by no means a locally-focused company, with consultant/trainers traveling very widely to lead sessions, we are based in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York State, and one similarly local-but-far-reaching event caught my eye which I thought was very much worth sharing.
That would be a nearby exhibition of the work of Saul Steinberg, titled "Illuminations," the artist most famously known for his frequent appearances over six decades in The New Yorker magazine. He was the clever fellow who gave us the much-imitated 1976 cover illustration of how New Yorkers see the world, "The View from 9th Avenue," where a couple of blocks of the city dominate, and the rest of the country occupies a small square of land in the distance.
But so much of his work displayed such a fresh, wonderfully creative mind that, for me, it "illustrates" an essential attitude that successful innovators have. This is the habit of looking to see things newly, as opposed to how we usually see, which is through a haze of existing thought patterns; and, freely associating, to find useful connections between things that were hidden until then.
In the words of the Saul Steinberg Foundation's page on his life and work, "fingerprints become mug shots or landscapes; graph or ledger paper doubles as the facade of an office building; words, numbers, and punctuation marks come to life as messengers of doubt, fear, or exuberance; sheet music lines glide into violin strings, record grooves, the grain of a wood table, and the smile of a cat."
"Saul Steinberg: Illuminations" will be on view through February 24 at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie. (845) 437-5632;
(...which I found in Chronogram magazine.)
(All works © by The Saul Steinberg Foundation)January 02, 2008
Give Everything You Have
If you are looking for a breakthrough in 2008 -- whether it's in the realm of innovation, collaboration, business, or personal relationships, allow me to offer you one simple piece of advice: give everything you have. Yup. Go all the way. Let it rip. Put all your chips on the table. Go all in. "A monomaniac on a mission" is how Peter Drucker once put it.
Martha Graham said the same basic thing, but a bit more poetically: "There is a vitality, a life force, that is translated to you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and will be lost."
Yessiree. Now's the time -- the time to translate your life force into action no matter what form it takes. Book to write? Move to make? Idea to manifest? Business to turnaround? Whatever. The key is to go for it. Give it everything you have. And yet, the act of giving everything you have is only HALF the battle. The other half... is HOW you give it.
And so, for all Heart of Innovation readers and any one else who has somehow found their way to this virtual space and time, I offer the following as a gift to you for a life well-lived in 2008. Imbibe it's meaning and you will find yourself succeeding beyond your wildest dreams. Not only will your cash flow, but so will you...
GIVE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE
Give everything you have,
and after you have given,
give what's left.
After you give what's left,
give what remains.
After giving that,
give the feeling of having given.
After giving the feeling
of having given,
give what you get
for having given.
Then give again,
never stopping, always giving.
And should it come to pass that you forget,
forgive yourself immediately.
Then begin again,
giving everything you have,
and after you have given,
give what's left.