Thursday, April 3, 2008

"O" is for Oracle

Oh, it would have been way to predictable to simply draw on words like organize, original, ornament, orange, or our beloved... Oprah for today's entry.  Instead, I want to leave today's creative idea to complete chance - letting it unravel in real time.  

This is going to be fun, fun, fun.  No matter where you are sitting while reading this you will want to get up and participate.  For today's entry I will follow my oracle.  To create an oracle, we need three things...

First, we need a question we want to address.  My question.  Around what topic should today's creative idea be centered?  Now, what's your question?  What should you make for dinner? Where should you and your colleagues go to lunch?  What should Friday's Fun-in-the-box-Friday activity be?  What, once and for all, should Cristine use as party favors for her husband's golf tournament?  Stop now and decide on a question.  Go ahead.  It will be fun.  Incidentally, if you work, you will be the hit of your next meeting when you bring this idea along.

Second.  We need a way to generate a random piece of information.  The operative word here is RANDOM.  After all, if you and your family, your staff, or your colleagues employ similar decision making techniques with each situation then you are bound to come up with similar solutions.  One way to unleash your creativity is to employ different approaches to decision-making.

Ok, we're going to take a time out here to actually help you acquire your random piece of information.  I used this activity once when training college students to think more creatively about program development and promotion.  We were sitting in a large auditorium.  I happen to be sitting in Starbucks right this moment.  Wherever you are it will work.  Ready?...

Stand up and take (insert a number 1-10) steps to your (appoint a direction... forward, backward, north, south, left, right).  Touch the item closest to you.  Identify the first letter of the item you touched.  Determine which number - 1-26 - of the alphabet your letter is.  Point to that number of objects in the room you are sitting. Determine the first letter of the last thing to which you pointed.  What letter does it start with?  Pick up the book closest to you.  Open to any random page and a word starting with that letter.  THAT IS YOUR ORACLE!  Needless to say, I made up the prompts.  They could be anything and in any order.  Think MadLibs.
Here's how mine played out...  Stand up and take 3 steps forward.  Touch the newspaper.  The first letter of newspaper is "N" - the 19th letter of the alphabet.  I pointed to a chair, table, picture, magazine holder, bulletin board, apron, bottle of syrup, espresso machine, barrista, pastry, CD for sale, Starbuck's logo, sugar packet, stirrer, mug, woman writing letters, computer, bag of coffee beans, and door. The first letter of the 19th item is "D."  I opened up my book and (Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin) and DOOM is the first word I saw starting with the letter "D." So... "Doom" is my oracle (Oh, how I wish I could cheat and pick a different one, but that wouldn't be fun and it wouldn't help illustrate the usefulness of trusting an oracle).  P.S. There are two "o"s in the word, so I think it was fated.

Third step.  We need an attitude open to interpreting the resulting random piece of information.  Why would I have landed on the word doom?  Am I doomed?  Is my blog doomed?  Doomed makes me think of gloom.  Is that because it's raining outside or because I've been in a funky mood lately?  Hmmmm... mood is doom spelled backwards....

That's it. Today's idea will be about creative (substance-free) ways to improve your mood!  My sister shared with me when she was in town this past weekend that she gets herself out of a funk by changing one small thing in her routine.  It could be something as simple as reversing the order in which she gets dressed.  I've been thinking about her strategy since she left, so maybe this was meant to be.  Some things that I try are...
  • Wake up thinking about the one thing I am most looking forward to doing that day (mailing a package, meeting someone for lunch, reading the next chapter in a book, trying a new recipe).
  • Slip off to a bookstore and pull a random book off the shelf looking for some meaning behind why I selected it (or it selected me, as the case may be).
  • Buy a favorite magazine and make a date with Ben and Jerry to curl up and read it page by glorious page.
  • My friend Melissa insists on embracing her bad mood by assigning whole days as f#@! days. The goal... use the "f" word at the beginning of every sentence.
  • How about you?  What do you do?
I'm dying to know what questions you posed and what your oracles turned out to be.  If willing, I'd love you to post them.

Signing off until tomorrow when I use "u" to uncover the uniqueness of "U'... 

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