A confrontation with the unexpected is a gift. Whether it creates a laugh or a wince, a gasp or a giggle; the noticing of the unusual has the potential to make us think.
And the space to think is a gift.
I was recently treated to the surprising sight of a couple of homeless gentlemen in a nearby neighbourhood who were sitting beside a busy road twisting the top half of a large 1970’s glitter ball in their hands. It certainly made me smile! Where on earth did they get that from? And what were they going to do with it? It looked so incongruous that the sight definitely deserved a laugh.
And then my thinking began…
First the awareness of belonging. To whom did the glitter ball belong? Where did these men themselves belong? (Homelessness always creates thoughts of belonging – or a lack of belonging). Why did it surprise me that an item of frivolity and sparkle should belong with people who struggle to find a meal and a dry space to sleep each day?
Why is it that we are so quick to attribute certain things, certain skills, certain opportunities only to particular people, and not others – sometimes not even to ourselves.
It is this closed and small-minded thinking that continually trips us up and renders us continually correcting and begrudging, instead of delighting and celebrating. Why shouldn’t these men own, and play with, a ‘70’s disco ball?
Why shouldn’t an unexpected colleague be given a project at work? Why should we be surprised when a manager reveals a penchant for water-colour painting? If certain thoughts or ways of being only belong with particular people or in particular situations, we will continually be short-changed in the many surprises and welcome creativity that can come with noticing – and inviting in – the unexpected. Imagine if our worldview allowed everything, every person to belong? Imagine the gifts we might reap…
Then to the awareness of seeing. I’ll admit that this is my constant challenge. Noticing and seeing what is happening around me is not my forte! So it was an unexpected gift that afternoon. It made me think, too, about how we often see that which we want – or expect – to see, instead of what is actually there.
Again it is closed and rigid thinking that can close us off to much of our awareness whenever things don’t fit with our paradigms. How many gloriously unexpected moments do we miss each day because we only look for that which we’ve told ourselves to see. How many wonderful pieces of work from our employees, uncomfortable comments from clients, or even crucial interpretations of our data are missed? What would happen if we allowed ourselves to see very differently and actually look for what is there? For that which we might say doesn’t really belong…
Perhaps we’d find that it is the expected, the usual, that doesn’t belong anymore - and the unexpected that we should entertain instead. Maybe we should dance with the ‘different’ and ‘unusual’ and see what changes in our work. What would really happen if we put a glitter ball in the boardroom…?
On a personal note...
I am curious, creative, determined, committed and (a bit too much of) a perfectionist.