A hectic domestic travel schedule sees me go through the motions when it comes to packing and unpacking. The self-imposed checks have proved reliable and tend to minimize or reduce loss and forgetfulness. Well until that is, until this present trip: a two-day facilitation involving the merger of two successful IT companies. Travel weary I arrived early at a beautiful venue that would host the important discussions. Shown to my room I dually went about unpacking and ordering my home away from home. I unzipped the shoe section of my luggage only to pull out two black shoes (no problem there) but from different stock (problem). Two shoes but each a stranger to the other: one a lace tie-up and the other not! On the bright side at least it was a left / right combination. That was something for which to be grateful.
“See it as a warm-up for the world no shoe day next week” was the cheerful but spectacularly unhelpful advice from my colleague who I might add, has plenty of experience in things of this nature. What to do? Would people notice…and even if they did, would they care? Would my facilitation skills be eroded by the fact that I couldn’t even dress myself properly? What would others think?
As it turns out I am about half way through the event and so far so good: not a mention. It seems that people don’t play too much attention to footwear, especially if the footwear in question is of a similar shade and shape. So, I’m an idiot to no one but myself…and now of course, to you. But all this has got me thinking: why not wear un-matching shoes as par for the course? I mean really, what’s the big deal? Where does it say that we shouldn’t? Who got to write the rules in the first place and why are they what they are?
We encourage leaders and those led to ‘think out the box’ (which of course presupposes that we are ‘thinking in the box’). We encourage creativity and a connecting of the dots that bypasses linear logic, straight lines and analysis. We want companies that are fresh, invigorating and fun to be part of – companies known for seeing, caring and feeling. Yet we follow a regime that more often than not drags us away from such thinking and practice. We hide behind the security of the known, the familiar and we diligently go about constructing prisons from the rules, regulations and policies all of which are designed to control, limit and manage. ‘Don’t wear different shoes’ is the loud and clear message that we hear day-in and day-out.
Come the 5th April I plan to go shoeless and by so doing hopefully become part of a grand global plot to draw attention to those for whom going shoeless is not optional. It is a worthy cause that has found creative expression. Maybe my colleague is right: wearing different shoes is a good dress rehearsal for One Day Without Shoes on the 5th. The point is we need to be able to break free of convention, the traditional, the staid and the boring norm. I am discovering (by default) that it takes some courage and so am looking forward to testing that to the limit on the 5th when I am due to take a flight. I don’t think there are any airport regulations on going barefoot, it is not like the plane will run over your toes or anything, but I’m sure to find out soon enough and I’ll be sure to let you know my findings.
Do something today that is different. Do something that challenges the status quo, the norm, the conventional. Do something that sparks conversations, raises questions and gets people talking, thinking or laughing. Be a Magic-maker, a Rain-maker, a Story-maker or an Anything-maker. Do it because, well because you can. Just do it and see what happens. Go on, I dare you.
And maybe, just maybe, the places where we live and work would be better for it if we did.