Remember when photocopying was referred to as Zeroxing – because of my advanced years, I can even remember when photocopying machines entered schools – and suddenly we were freed from the dreaded purple Ditto copies which faded almost as soon as they were run. The new copiers were so popular that every classroom teacher was reproducing documents at such a fast pace we were all put on a paper diet. The name of the first photocopying machine became a verb or the process – in the same way that Kleenex now means paper tissue – and everyone knows how to ask for one from toddlerhood.
So it’s interesting that one – but only one Microsoft software program – has reached the same iconic status. I’ve just received an invitation to a meeting where I am told there will be a PowerPoint presentation. That is more than enough to keep me away – but do you notice that a presentation still must be preceded by PowerPoint. At the same meeting there may be some documents or spreadsheets distributed but they don’t need the imprimatur of Word or Excel as prefixes to give them credence. There is still some reverence for PPT in spite of the fact that it nearly always displays a canned document – not an engaging screen. So even if you like the software – which I actually do – for heaven sake start with a blank page, an image and a maximum of about six words. Otherwise Death by PowerPoint will still hold sway.
I was about the throw the original drawing out because I appeared to have messed it up so completely. but I gave it 24 hours
Coming back to it, it didn’t seem quite as hopeless as a I thought
I was prepared to give it one last go – what did I really have to lose?
From no confidence to a little, a bit more started to emerge
Humour clearly said that the finished version was neither as bad – nor as good as I thought! So I stopped.
The drawing had changed. The original looked younger than the subject. The photo reference actually does make the subject look younger than he now is – and soon he will look much older. So the constructions on the right are samples of some of the imaginative constructions of his own. What sometimes seems like daydreaming is actually full of ideas.
If I were to make a resolution in helping clients in any context – it would probably be to listen more and talk less.
And one of the things it would be worth listening to is the metaphor. One of my English professors many years ago decried the fall of the metaphor in favour of the simile in poetry, but metaphors are alive and well in everyday speech.
A provocative take on this is provided by Andy Austin in his work in Metaphors of Movement. He observes that we use them in several ways – to describe feelings, to provide context, to analyze our situations. These are mini stories, that like all metaphors, capture a huge amount of information in a single frame. They can also provide clues to what is wrong with our approach – particularly in how we are trying to solve a problem, or in our expectations of how to deal with it.
An amusing example is the business leader who comments that he has spent two years planning and building a business – and it is not taking off. Austin’s comment is that something so solidly built is actually not likely to take off. Wings won’t help. It’s solid and intended to stay put.
So listening to the metaphor – and especially listening for the discrepancy between two of them can provide some insight into where we might be getting it wrong.
I’ll won’t comment on the length of time between posts and just get on with Ben Zander’s next chapter. It’s called Rule Number Six.
He relates the story of the company president who asked interrupting employees to remember this rule. A visitor was impressed and asked what it was. The president replied ” Don’t take yourself so g-damn seriously” The visitor thought this was an excellent rule and wondered what the others were “There aren’t any!’ came the reply.
It’s a good reminder for all of us. We become wrapped up in our own worlds, taking offence when we are interrupted or when our views meet disagreement head on. Many years ago I worked for a president who took herself very seriously. The issue was a name change of a choral organization and the discussion had gone on much too long. We were looking at the acronym since all organizations seem to like calling themselves by their initials. Ontario Choral Association sounded too much like the Ontario College of Art. Ontario Association of Choirs sounded too much like the funding body, Ontario Arts Council. A wag at the other end of the table started circulating a memo by hand and each reader collapsed into repressed giggles. It finally came to me and I did the same. I was sitting beside the president who was in the chair. Should I pass it on? I did – and the discussion ended. The suggestion was “Federation of Upper Canada Choirs”.
Humour has a wonderful way of bringing us back to earth. In any discussion our over-involvement in our own immediate perspective can work against us. Rule #6 can help us with that.