All we need to do is follow some simple processes, in order to surprise ourselves and take a risk.
If you want to explore this idea, try the following exercise.
Instructions: go out onto the street for five minutes and note down what you see. In your mind’s eye upend the objects or turn them 90 degrees. What kinds of shapes do they make?
Or turn yourself to see the sky or the pavement from a different angle.
Then come back. Tell me, what did you find?
Over time, after many weeks, these simple exercises, of discovery and evaluation, of experiment and chance, can help to build a practice that is genuine, unique. And after a while we can use this idiosyncratic way of seeing things to direct other people towards our singular reading of the world.
(You are now on your way to be an artist.)
The tests and challenges of the opposite are also useful for developing all sorts of mental acuity.
This is because, if you can work with materials in this way, and so be an ‘artist’ (I use this word here in a more general sense), you might be able to apply these core skills to other areas of your life:
For example, I often use the instruction ‘Do the opposite’ as a way of working with senior management, throwing them out into the upside down, to help them explore the possibilities of chance and risk.
This encourages them to cultivate the experimental as a way of doing business.
My challenge to us to do the opposite is a way of putting each of us in touch again with the free-wheeling parts of our own personality -- elements that we often haven’t made contact with for years.
If people are given this opportunity – to play in their offices, to work with materials, to make up games – they always enjoy it.
If, during this process, they also
- Invent product names
- Generate new procedures
- Develop collaborative processes
- Create original outputs,
then everyone is happy.
If all employees could be an ‘artist’ -- if they could freeze time for a moment and play with ideas for just five minutes a day -- then that environment would be full of potential, rich with nuance.
It would return the organisation to a heightened state of creativity.
Therefore, once started, ‘Do the opposite’, is a philosophy than can have impact on all of us, if we are willing to take the risk.