Let us first interact with the landscape before us. Making sense of the present is the remarkable process of life. The art takes place once we attempt to frame it, however we cannot communicate with that which we do not first perceive.
Why do round-trip airline tickets cost less than one-way tickets? Do the airline not trust us to come back and do business with them again? Why do wireless companies charge early termination fees if they are convinced that they are uniquely positioned to offer the best coverage, highest customer service, and most extraordinary calling plans? Why do home maid services have a penalty clause if a client does not maintain service with the company for a year? If they are cleaning the house on a weekly basis they have over fifty opportunities to solidify loyalty.
Why does Amazon allow customers to download a book onto their Kindle and return it within seven days if not satisfied? Zappos gladly accepts any item back if it does not meet with our satisfaction and they pay for the shipping. Many a coffee house will remake a drink if it did not meet with our expectations.
Each company has its rational. Some are based on revenue and expense metrics. Others are tied to core values. Reflect on what stories we tell. What stories do we tell about the airlines and wireless companies? And compare that to the stories we share about Zappos? Nordstrom was famous for accepting car tires as a return from a customer. The catch, Nordstrom is a clothier with no history in automotive sales but the story is now legend (or apocryphal).
Do our actions match the stories we tell? And what stories does our community tell about us? Do we consider ourselves artists who understand our art is not for everyone, or are we focused on closing a deal and pointing to the fine print if the customer is dissatisfied?
|Hot Wheels Track Assembly|
During my grade school years I owned a Hot Wheels track for my Matchbox car set. I bought it at church bizarre sale. Besides the banked corners and the vertical loop, the critical feature was unit that looked like a car wash. Once batteries were installed and it was powered up, two rotating brushes spinning on a horizontal axis were aligned to accelerate a Matchbox car sufficiently to make a complete lap of the track before returning for another application of speed. Depending on the length of the track the return speed of the car effected the acceleration through the speedmachine. Yesterday I attended an event that re-accelerated my commitment to serving causes that inspire.
|Seth in Tribeca|
I flew to New York City for the day to attend Seth Godin’s “Pick Yourself” presentation in the Tribeca. The magical part was that Seth spoke from some prepared thoughts for an hour, weaving his themes into a series of anecdotes. Then he answered the audience’s questions for the rest of the day, while surprising us with musical performers after breaks. The questions for Seth ranged from the marketing strategies to hiring a hiking guide in South America. As I reflect on my pages of notes and consider how to amplify the experience, I was taken by one theme in particular.
Seth presented the analogy of walking into a forest with an axe. One person selects a single tee and starts a concentrated effort of chopping it down. They understand it will not fall after only a couple hacks. If they are committed and continue making progress eventually they will yell ‘timber.’ However, many of us give up after a couple swings and move onto another tree. Eventually we find that we have left a scar on many trees but never committed long enough to fall any one of them. The reality is that nobody knows which the right tree is to be wielding our axe on and that in itself is the adventure. There is no shortcuts. Hard work, perspiration, and blisters are the realties of a committed effort. However, the biggest obstacle for most of us is that we fear our own super power. The combination of skills that make us unique and accomplished artists.
What tree have you selected to chop down? Are you willing to put fear aside and commit to the effort? Are you prepared to experience your own art in the process?