Or, how an Australian Shepherd taught me to see his world.
I preach it all the time in my corporate creativity workshops: Change your angle on the problem, and your creative solution emerges. It’s a time-tested formula that has worked for artists for centuries.
Artists generally view the world–-or a challenge–in a unique way: their own way. It’s through this personal filter they interpret and see what others miss. It’s the only way to create a work of art that is original—not derivative. In our work—and in life—it is crucial we be conscious of the fact that there is always another way to look at something. (See Cubism, Pic #2)
Confirming the theory – my experience with “Cody:”
Last week, I took my friend’s 10-year-old dog Cody for a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. He’s always bursting with energy and eager to lead the way. On this day, he stopped halfway up the trail, seemed to be favoring one side, and then lifted his front left paw–and held it there–just like Lassie. I’ve read that such a move could mean injury—like a sprain or cut in his pad—so I ran over to inspect the bottom of his foot for rocks or thorns. Mysteriously, I found nothing.
I kept looking, and wished he could tell me something. It was clear he didn’t want to go any further. I suddenly realized I needed a fresh view of the problem. How could I figure out what was going on? I knew–if I’m to be true to my beliefs–I needed to change my perspective, and be a dog. Yes—that meant getting down on all fours—and placing my own paws down on the dirt.
So I did it. I got down on my knees and flattened my bare hands onto the wild greens and dry path that Cody had to navigate.
Wow. I mean – “Ow.” It took half a second to figure it out—as I quickly extracted my hands from the ground to find my fingers bleeding. The culprit? Spiky microscopic needles on crabgrass leaves that pierced my skin. Clearly, this is what Cody stepped on, and it did not feel good. I had the benefit of sneakers; he did not. I immediately said, “Oh Cody, I am so sorry.” And off we went in search of a sweet, soft patch of grass.
My lesson here was this: being willing to change my perspective gives me an added dimension of understanding. In the end, it solved the problem. I had to be open to step out of my familiar place and venture over to the unfamiliar—even though it was a little goofy. In so doing, I got to experience the beauty in connecting with one of God’s glorious creatures, and relieving him of what must have been awful pain.
I treasure this experience, and will pass it along to my colleagues and friends. You just never know when the lesson will present itself. But change your view—and I guarantee — discovery sits right in your path.