The brilliant Julio Olalla recently told me a story about the connection between language and experience.
He said to imagine you go to an art museum filled with several Gaugins. You stroll through. You notice the vibrant colors, the tropical scenes, the curious eyes of the Polynesian women. Then, as you leave, you run into the world’s greatest Gaugin scholar. She invites you to walk through the exhibit again, this time with her as your guide. Perhaps you think, “But I just saw it all!” But in the end, you go back through with her.
Do you really believe your second experience would be remotely like your first? Instead, wouldn’t her explanation of context and dissections of the painter’s technique create for you an entirely different and richer experience? Wasn’t your first experience limited and defined by what you didn’t know?
I connect this story with humility in the workplace. What if you walked through your work every day assuming that at any moment you might run into your industy’s most insightful person, who would transform your understanding of virtually everything and remove limitations you didn’t even know you had?
We usually live in our comfort zone. We assume we know pretty much everything about what’s important to know. But what if we’re just kindergarteners in life’s school?
Is that so inconceivable?
Keeps you humble, doesn’t it? And doesn’t that open your eyes to new possibilities? Maybe, more than humility, this story is about how to find game-changing innovation.