“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.”
– Christopher Morley
It was an experimental wine that Thierry had been working on…
He thought it had potential, so he decided to share it with Guy.
He poured two glasses. They sipped it.
After they’d both appreciated it for a few minutes, Thierry declared in heavily accented English…
“Now zat iz what you call a phet best-ard!”
And so the wine — and Thierry’s winery — was named.
The point: Don’t be afraid of silly ideas…
That’s the advice Paul Arden gives in his book It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be.
And it’s advice that I agree with big time.
Fat Bastard wine is just one example of a silly idea that turned out to be very successful. I mean, who in their right mind would call a wine Fat Bastard?
Yet, it worked brilliantly…
In just six years, it became an international success, selling hundreds of thousands of cases. In fact, the brand was described by BusinessWeek as a “marketing phenomenon.”
I actually remember first seeing a bottle of Fat Bastard in a Tesco in Grimsby a couple of years ago. And I’m not surprised it’s stuck in my memory…
Imagine looking along your typical supermarket wine shelf. There’s Chateau This and Chateaux That — and then, right in the middle, there’s a bottle of Fat Bastard!
It’s an absurd name — almost juvenile. But attention-getting… and unforgettable.
Arden quotes John Cleese as saying:
“High creativity is responding to situations without critical thought.”
That’s what happened with the wine… Thierry and Guy weren’t thinking critically when they decided to name the wine. They just went with it.
I bet there was a lot of critical thought afterward, as various “suits” undoubtedly told them it was a silly idea. But they stayed with it, and ended up with a hit on their hands.
Using Silly Ideas to Solve Your Problems
Arden also talks about how “thinking silly” can help you overcome a mental block…
This resonated with me, because it’s something I often do if I get stuck. You’re faced with a problem at work and you need to come up with a solution, but your brain just isn’t firing.
It happens to us all, right?
You sit there trying to figure it out, but you end up going round in circles.
The problem remains.
One of the reasons your brain might not be firing properly is because you’re being too critical of yourself… You’re so concerned with coming up with the right solution, first time, that you’re blocking your brain.
As Cleese said, “creativity is responding to situations without critical thought.” So, you need to dump that critical thought and start thinking freely, start thinking “silly.”
Arden’s approach, here, is two-fold…
First, he recommends doing the opposite of what the solution requires…
And second, he recommends looking out the window and using whatever catches your eye — be it a man in the street, a television aerial, whatever — as a possible solution to your problem.
Both ideas sound strange, but it’s exactly this kind of illogic that shakes up your brain and gets it thinking about your problem — and its solution — in a different way.
So whenever you’re struggling to come up with a solution to a problem you’re facing…
Follow Paul Arden’s advice and start “thinking silly”… Your silly idea might just turn out to be the best one you ever have.
Source: Glenn Fischer ETR