Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Whack on the Side of the Head: A Lesson from Lincoln

Is there room for two more people at our party?

It's Wednesday - the day we invite Roger von Oech to join our blog community, so that he can whack our thinking.  It just so happens, Lincoln wants in on the fun, too, this week.  Newcomers... here's some quick background.  

The best way to keep this space a haven of creative ideas is to assure that the minds of our creative readers stays limber.  Think of Roger von Oech as our coach.  Roger presents (via a randomly selected card from his Creative Whack Pack - available in bookstores) a principle of creativity.  Then we, the highlowaha readers, apply the principle to our dilemma of the day.  In the end, our thinking has been stretched and we've generated new ideas or insights.

Laura, Mandy, Jenny, Jessie, Amber, Marie, Mary Beth, Molly(!) and all you returners.... Are you ready?

The context for today's whack is friendships.  What are easy, creative, and inexpensive ways to stay connected with our friends who are at a distance?

Now for von Oech's whack.  

Look to the Past.  History is loaded with creative analogies.  Napoleon marching on Moscow is really just project management.  Mao waging a guerrilla war is like launching an ad campaign.  Pick a culture from the past.  How would someone from that culture deal with your issue?  How about from your own personal history?  What were you doing ten years ago that might be useful now?  What ideas from history can you apply to a current project?

I've pulled this card before, but as a former history major, it suits me just fine to have pulled it a second time.  A quick glance at reveals a long list of things that happened on this day in History.  1620, The Pilgrims reach Cape Cod;  1863, Lincoln delivers the "Gettysburg Address" at the dedication of the National Cemetery at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg; 1897, The Great "City Fire" in London; 1969, Apollo 12 touches down on the moon; 1973, New York stock market takes the sharpest dip in 19 years; and about 15 other events I won't list. 

Me?  I'm putting my money on Lincoln and the Gettysburg address.  I haven't gotten that far in the 762 page book Maureen bought me for my birthday, in leu of my one of my Bucket List items (see post marked, ), but I think I remember enough  of the basics to eek my way through.

Here's what I know.  Lincoln was asked only 9 days prior if he would make a few remarks at the dedication of the National Cemetery.  Edward Everett, considered a great orator of the time, was actually appointed to be the equivalent of "keynote"speaker.  Everett's speech was 2 hours long (and something like 13,00o words), whereas Lincoln's remarks was 10 lines and 272 words long (that I remember, because his brevity always impressed me).  His speech lasted just over two minutes.  Lincoln's Gettysburg address continues to be acclaimed as one of the greatest speeches in American history, whereas Everett's was forgotten almost immediately.

My insight isn't going to earn me Mensa points.  It's actually pretty simple.  Writing  a thoughtful note to a good friend does not have to be 13,000 words long or take over 2 hours to write or read.  In fact, it can be 10 lines, or fewer, and have far more impact!

So stop putting it off.  Some say, Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope while on the train to Pennsylvania.  A letter from a friend on the back of an envelope, while killing time, is a.o.k with me!

One more unrelated thought and then I turn it over to all of you.

Newcomers, it is time we talked about my Random Acts of Kindness Box (affectionately known on the blog as the RAK box).  The idea is simple.  Send me a postcard with your name and address on it and I will put your name in my RAK box.  Then, when I'm feeling either blue or feeling generous, I randomly pull a name from the box and send a card, small package, or baked treat to the lucky winner.  I tell you this for two reasons.
  • First, wouldn't it be fun to have your very own Friendship RAK box?  Include the names of your closest friends, relatives, and even former colleagues.  No pressure.  No expectations.  When you get a minute or need a break, randomly pull someone's name from the box and - in the spirit of Lincoln - send short note.
  • Second, we want you in our RAK box.  Jot your name and address on a postcard and send it to me at Claudia K. Beeny, 4012 Harvestwood Court, Grapevine, TX., 76051.  
Now it's your turn.  What insight might you glean from another historical event, a different culture, or your own personal history that we can apply to today's topic - easy, creative, and inexpensive ways to stay connected to friends who are at a distance?  Contribute and help keep this a blog... "of the people, by the people, for the people."

  • And the winner of yesterday's highlowaha t-shirt is... Montana Kelly!  Can you believe it?  Montana Kelly revisited us for the first time today, after having been MIA for the past couple of weeks and she won!  It was meant to be!!!

Biding Farewell to von Oech and Lincoln and signing off until tomorrow...

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