I’m having breakfast at the hotel in Delhi. It’s a buffet that comes with the price of the room. I order coffee and then go to the buffet. I read the offerings and walk the length of the table, not sure what most of these dishes are. It’s my first time in Delhi.
I begin to notice the number of westerners in the room—from the UK and USA, mostly. Almost all of them are at the omelette bar or getting the traditional western breakfast. I see several of them lift the covers on the other foods, only to quickly cover them. Indian dishes full of vegetables, soups, and spices don’t seem to appeal.
People seek out foods that are familiar . . . what makes them comfortable . . . what feels safe. I realize that this is not the first time I’ve seen this. It’s the same reason I hear tourists request “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” in restaurants in Vienna—the land of Mozart and Strauss. People want the familiar.
They want the comfort and safety of the familiar. After all, who ever heard of eating rice soup with tuna for breakfast? People want safety and security, and they don’t want to look foolish if they decide to select a local dish. So, it’s back to what’s familiar.
Back to my meal. I find a server and ask him to help me with some of the dishes. He happily explains what each dish is and what goes with what, and how you eat it. What’s spicy and what’s not. I make selections and return to my table. The Naan bread and chickpea gravy is very good. There is a tasty eggplant dish as well. I also like the rice soup (congee) with vegetables. I pass on the bacon and eggs.
As you might have guessed, I am not really writing about food. I’m writing about the tyranny of the familiar that plagues all of us. This is a human condition, a condition that lulls us into comfort.
Comfort is the enemy of thinking and creativity.
So, what do we do? How do we get out of this rut? It’s fun to say that we need to “think outside the box.” But it’s tough to actually do it. What we need to do is stop and think first.
I see this tyranny of the familiar in some participants in workshops (especially Flawless Consulting). Some people are reluctant to try new approaches and will find reasons not to try. They want what’s familiar!
To move out of that rut, start with a change in thinking.
To think first means that you start by suspending judgment. Suspended judgment is the foundation of all creative thinking. It helps you see things differently. It opens the door to new possibilities.
Next, remember you have a “server” to help you as I did in India. It’s your Designed Learning Trainer or Coach. She or he will help you try the “dishes” in a safe environment. They are your partners.
So, next time you’re having breakfast in India, don’t just walk by the Rawa Idli or Uttapam on your way to the omelette bar—think first about the possibilities. Then, try some.
I’d love to hear your stories. Drop me a note. Let me know how it’s going.
Charles L Fields was a highly acclaimed Senior Consultant at Designed Learning and a lover of life. He traveled the world by car, rail, plane, and ship, watched the sunrise on Croagh Patrick, and set on Victoria Peak, weathered a perfect storm in the Pacific, bartered for a darbuka in the Grand Bazaar, prayed at Lord Nelson’s Sarcophagus, ate lunch in the oldest restaurant in the world. His prolific and thought-provoking writing contributed to the design and re-design of many DL products, including Flawless Consulting, Empowerment, and Stewardship. Charlie shared his passion for this body of work in over 25 countries. His impact is a blessing.