So tonight Sarah Bray and her stalwart crew threw a real zinger out there with the latest prompt in the 14 day excursion know as Show & Don’t Tell. Tonight the prompt was to find 21 things to represent ONE thing that people need to know to become patriots for your nation i.e. loyal members of your tribe. And then once you’ve gathered your 21 things you’re supposed to give it all a 21 gun salute – in 10 minutes!
My brain simply couldn’t process this one, but I didn’t want to skip the exercise because that question, “What is the one thing people need to know?” feels important. So I decided to begin by answering that question in the context of what I do with my brand therapy and Doodles to Noodle work…
If there is one thing that I want my tribe to embrace it is the idea that everyone has deeply rooted patterns inside them. They are shaped by their values and their behaviors and these patterns find ways to express themselves in the things that you do. They can cause motifs to appear in work that you might do years apart, in completely different job roles. They can be a source of great strength or the stubbornest of obstacles. So rather than try to find 21 objects that represent this idea, I immediately thought of something that has at least 21 parts to it – an old childhood favorite, a Spirograph set. Actually when you add up all the gears and pens and those green push-pins it was probably more like 50 pieces.
They’d probably never let kids today have a toy that comes with a bag full of pins. Actually, I’m not sure I could be trusted now with a bag full of pins, so I don’t have a Spirograph to photograph for you. Instead I’ll humbly offer this drawing and a few thoughts on those patterns I was talking about.
Sometimes when people are feeling frustrated or dissatisfied they sense the patterns inside themselves and feel that they need to change them, however, it is often better to embrace those authentic patterns and learn where they can take you when you don’t try to suppress them. Just like the gears of the Spirograph – changing the shapes is hard and can cause breakage, trying to force the pen around the circle, resisting the teeth of the gears causes the pen to jump, and the pins to be knocked out making a frustrating experience, but when you learn to follow the flow of the shape, allowing the pen and the gears to follow their own natural patterns, when you stop resisting what feels like an eccentric movement to your hand and brain, that is when you can make beautiful, satisfying things.
Trust those inner shapes and patterns and let them guide what you do and you may find yourself astonished by what they can help you create.