We all remember with fascination playing with paints as kids and the joy mixing them together creating new colors. The exciting discovery of a new purple from a brilliant red and a calm blue drove us to mix more and more colors together until we had the brilliant idea to mix ALL of them together! With high expectations, we were deeply disappointed when we discovered a rather dull grayish brown that was simultaneously all colors and no color.
Similarly, we’ve all experienced amazement at an expertly cooked gourmet dish where we could still taste each individual ingredient and yet the medley tasted better than each part. Enjoying the play of each flavor, we appreciate more the masterpiece of the composition. Much better than the casserole mush we sometimes find at a potluck, which tastes fine, but unremarkable and unmemorable.
Yet we can muddle more things than just art and food. At work, the products we build stop solving specific problems but become a confusing mess of options. Or sometimes when we describe the benefits of our products instead of giving 1 or 2 clear reasons, we give so many that the message becomes lost.
Perhaps the most important thing to avoid muddling is our own lives. Too often we are so busy packing it all in that we stop enjoying the smile of our children, the small accomplishments at work, the laughter of our friends and even the dark struggles and frustrations we all experience every day. Instead we just throw it all in the blender and experience life as a brown grayish goo: everything and nothing.
As we look toward the New Year, perhaps we should take a few moments to enjoy and appreciate all the individual flavors of life and work to shape the composition of all of them together.
[PS. If you want to check out a good system for keeping roles clear, check out PilotFire – Plan A Great Week In 20 Minutes]