Monday, July 21, 2014

Moments of Conception 055 -- The Bathroom Scene from Opportunity Knocks

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the bathroom scene in Opportunity Knocks:

What can we learn?

Shift your body, shift your brain. I remember watching this movie in my high school marketing class. I loved it. Most of the other students else were either sleeping or doodling in their notebooks, but for some reason, I actually paid attention that day. Twenty years later, this scene is still one of my favorites. The boardroom, after all, has massive conceptual, contextual and cultural implications. It’s iconic. It’s a staple of modern business. It’s where deals happen and decisions are made. But the boardroom is also where creativity goes to die. And so, if we seek inspiration to help us think about our work differently, we have to practice a little physical displacement. It takes the pressure off, transfers the locus of brain energy and allows the mind to focus. That’s why we’re able to see patterns we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. Creativity is fed by emotion, emotion is fed through experience, and experience is created through movement. What setting would be most inspirational if you were asked to come up with a really creative idea?

Don’t just inform, form. Jonathan knows he can’t make people listen to him, but he can raise their receptivity so his ideas have the highest probability of getting through. His strategy, then, is to be a sleeper. To come in under the radar and disturb the people’s worldview. That’s the only way to shift their position on the receptivity continuum from opposition to acceptance. And so, he introduces surprise into the equation. Because surprise creates anxiety in the air, and that’s the best time to give people new ideas. Forcing a group of stuffy corporate executives to hold their board meeting the bathroom might have made them uncomfortable, but it also made them more open to what he was trying to communicate. Whether or not this would work in real life is doubtful. But the general principle is indisputable. The theater of presenting the idea is just as important as the idea itself. How are you making your ideas more accessible?

Communication as a relaxing experience. Jonathan’s strategy of moving the meeting from the boardroom to the bathroom is a stalling maneuver, pardon the pun. It’s a way of buying yourself time in group meetings, auditions, interviews and presentations, so that you can collect your thoughts and build anticipation around your message. It’s a powerful way to let the room breathe. The problem is, as creators of ideas, our instinct is to go for speed and volume. To overwhelm the audience with our genius. To fill every second of dead air with words, lest we lose people’s interest. But communication can be a relaxing experience. It can feel more like a bathroom than a boardroom. It all depends on the leader in the room. Jonathan appears stifled and confused in the beginning of the scene, but once he finds his groove and gets the blood flowing, we see him start to have fun and smile and relax and enjoy the experience. He’s entirely present. The audience can’t help by follow his lead. And from this point on, they’ll never look at a bathroom stall the same again. How are people changed after having a conversation with you?

What's your favorite movie moment of conception?