Have you ever felt your words would not do full justice to your deep thoughts bottled up inside waiting to burst out?
You put your heart and soul into your unique insight, you communicate and then you linger. All you get back are blank stares or worse, sympathetic looks. Has that happened to you?
If yes, you are not alone. And there is a hack. Read on.
I had a predicament in the early days of my career. I was appreciated for deep thinking, the early days gap that I worked hard on —communicating complex ideas simply. The best way to express those early feelings — I always felt comfortable diving into the deep sea, exploring the ocean floor, looking for new flora and fauna — with my will showing no semblance of restraint. True constraint was my oxygen tank. Surging back to the surface, it was a different world, different audience and different expectations. And the most sincere advice I got was “strive to make your listeners feel good about themselves.”
Art of Analogies — Relate and Feel Good.
Those feelings came gushing back and I was nodding my head in agreement when I read the genesis of how the movie Lion King came about. Adam Grant, author of the famous book Give and Take, shares it wonderfully in his later book, Originals. Many Disney executives could not initially connect with the concept of the movie. It was quite a radical departure for their time-tested working formula of Cindrella and other stories. Until someone in the meeting blurted out, It is like Shakespeare’s Hamlet for lions. And the rest is history.
I had a similar experience. In a round table meeting, couple of years ago, a start-up (then) called Choose Energy was debated. The discussion centered around what they did. They were in the electricity business and that was all that was common with the utility companies. While the discussions went in circles deciphering their business, one wise person shared — “looks like they are Expedia for electricity.” That propelled the conversation immeasurably.
The punch line — analogies work. Great. Many of us grasp that. Fairly straight forward conventional thought. How does it fit in for non-conformist originals? I started to ponder.
There are many books on being a creative thinker that advocate for unshackling all boundaries and thinking like a free bird — the true genesis of a script like Lion King.
There are others that champion “thinking in the audience’s shoes” and making them (the listeners) feel good about themselves by relating to them — analogies in the two examples fit to perfection.
What happens when the two thoughts mesh together? Can you be an original thinker and a conventional relater? My aha — The way you think can be different from the way you express yourself. In other words, you take a long walk to introspect and solve a complex problem. One option is share the steps on exactly how you thought it through unconventionally and hope that your listeners follow you.
Or you can draw them like Steve Jobs– you gather your insight, bottle up your radical steps, keep them aside and explain the insight in relatable ways for the audience. That is one way you become a “conventional original” — unconventional in thought, conventional in communication.
In essence, we humans are simplifiers. We simplify to relate, we dwell deeper when we choose to, at our own pace –if there is something of value to us. And successful originals realize that. Your thoughts make you stand out, your communication make you relate and the secret binding sauce — you — make the listeners feel good about themselves.
How you connect with people with your ideas can be different from how you thought about them — there is a comfort in feeling that.
With that, let the deep seated, bottled thoughts inside you rejoice, it is time to burst them open and share it with the world.
My story could be your story. Write on. Right here.