Until it’s Obvious, You Aren’t Teal

“You can tell what’s informing a society by what the tallest building is. When you approach a medieval town, the cathedral is the tallest thing in the place. When you approach an eighteenth-century town, it is the political palace that’s the tallest thing in the place. And when you approach a modern city, the tallest places are the office buildings, the centers of economic life.” — Joseph Campbell

What stands at the center of your work? Is it obvious? Can you point to it? Does it summon you, again and again, to some wondrous place inside yourself? What does everyone speak about at work? What goes without saying, always right there, out of the corner of your eye, filling in the space between words? If it doesn’t come up, you’re taking it for granted. If you take it for granted, it’s not obvious enough.

Don’t be afraid to speak of what calls you up out of your bed and out of your door every day. Don’t be afraid to declare it from the rooftops. Better yet, let it stand taller than the rooftops. Or make it into a t-shirt. Just let it be seen.

If the people in this business say they value wholeness, let’s see it. Let’s hang some absurdity and shadow and beauty and risk right there on the walls. If you value trust, show it. Architect space for vulnerability inside your daily check-in. Get serious about the things you say you’re serious about and put them in hands and mouths and reports and emails and don’t let even a whisper of branding mix in with the clay. Don’t you dare put up a billboard. This is who you are when the lights go off. This is how people orient when they get lost. This is your purpose: the reason you exist, and if it can’t be seen with the naked eye it isn’t for real, and neither are you.