It's been a while since we've checked in with Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher whom I consider to be the world's first "creativity teacher." Let's do so now. His thought for today is:
Like just about all of Heraclitus' enigmatic epigrams, this one can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Here's one "take" on it:
Realize that people value different things.
What's important to one person can be of little consequence to another. For example, how well the Yankees perform this weekend matters greatly to a New York baseball enthusiast but hardly at all to a Helsinki accountant.
What's sacred to one group can be profane to another. For example, a hamburger establishment on Michigan Avenue will attract customers: on the banks of the Ganges it will draw outrage.
What's unthinkable in one culture can be as natural as breathing in another. For example, candy manufacturers in developed countries use special color agents to avoid staining the tongue; in developing countries some people prefer having a candy-stained mouth because it boasts of having disposable income.
Thus, your "golden idea" may be just so much garbage in someone else's estimation — and vice versa.
Some questions to think about:
- Do other people value your idea the way you do?
- How can you help them understand your perspective?
- In what ways do you need to educate yourself about other points of view?
- What are you overly concerned about that's really not such a big deal?
- What's your blind spot about not seeing cultural differences?