People are often fond of using the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason’, but I don’t think that’s necessarily accurate. Truthfully, I think a reason can be attached to anything – but that’s not to say the reason is ‘made up’ or any less valid. Just maybe things aren’t completely out of our hands and pre-mapped by the universe, but there’s a million tiny little messages in seemingly everyday situations for us to process into understanding. Nothing is circumstantial, because nothing needs to be. I believe there’s a way to diagnose even the most menial of events into a life lesson, or at least, an apt metaphor.
One such of these, I realised this morning on the daily commute. It was the average morning of an unextraordinary weekday, and as I took my regular spot on the usual train, I began gazing out of the window as the train departed the station, as I normally do.
But I decided to be more present this time. Instead of just looking on with an unfocused gaze like I’m used to while my mind wanders, I choose to be more aware of what my eyes were actually viewing. And right before my eyes, the metaphor sparked into epiphany.
Now, spare my melodrama for a moment, but I realised there’s three levels of looking out a train window. And thusly, there’s three ways to look at anything – physically or metaphorically.
The first is to look at the window. Maybe it has some dirt on it or some little scratches. Perhaps, like this morning, it’s raining slightly and you watch the little trembling droplets make their valiant pilgrimage across the window pane. You’re aware of the blur of the outside world beyond the pane, but your eyes are focused on the surface, and nothing beyond that really matters.
The second, is to focus just beyond the pane. You can observe the blur with unfocused clarity and it takes some form. You know what you’re looking at, that you’re passing buildings, trees and streets, but you cannot discern any specific features. Your eyes remain in a fixed gaze as you watch the seemingly-stationary side of the train melt into the streaks of the outside world.
The third is when you begin to move your eyes with the momentum of the passing world, as though you’re slowing down time. As your eyes flit from side to side, you can single out individual buildings, trees and streets and observe them with singular clarity. It requires attention, effort and even dedication, but if you want to, you know you can see every single thing which passes by, with depth and insight.
… Or, you can let it all blur past, and judge it all from just the window.
And is this not the perfect metaphor for the way we are at risk of looking at their own organisations, brands and companies? We constantly see cases of progress grinding to a halt, because companies don’t know what it is that they’re actually trying to offer, trying to achieve. And that’s because they are yet to delve deep into the why, and uncover the core motive of why they do what they do. If we end up only looking at the window, how can we truly know what we are about, or more importantly, what our employees think we’re about?
Looking at the glass might be a good place to start, but we have to learn to then look through it, too. And that’s where we come in. We are The Experience is the Marketing, and we are these proverbial glaze-gazers. We harness that dedication, effort and attention to detail required to observe with depth, to be able to purify and clarify internal cultures – to find purpose.
And the way we do that is to not just try and understand the blur, but to take a closer look at every building, street and tree, too.
Welcome world, to The Experience is the Marketing.