Roy is a friend and colleague from the University of Maryland Business School, where we both teach. Roy is full-time. I’m an adjunct, teaching in the fall semester, public speaking and storytelling.
On Roy’s LinkedIn feed, he shared an excellent story about his son and him, which is filled with humor and personal insights.
His story has a nice setup, uses character dialogue, invites us into his kitchen, shares his insights through the lens of peanut butter and pasta, and includes a compelling message. A message that inspires us to be better. And that’s why we call it, your Better Tomorrow Message ™.
As you read Roy’s story, ask yourself, “Where am I telling stories to better engage and influence?” and “Are your stories working?” If yes, excellent — keep telling (more) stories. If no, what are you going to do to improve these stories?
My five-year-old son is more creative than I could ever imagine to be.
The other day, he said to me, “Daddy. I’m hungry. Can I have peanut butter and pasta?”
I immediately thought, “Pasta with red sauce and peanut butter (PBRSP)? Disgusting!” My wife thought the peanut butter would replace the red sauce and started making it after confirming with him (PBP).
I still thought that was super weird. And at the same time, I was intrigued. Really intrigued. Would he actually EAT it?
He did. And he loved it.
About an hour later, I started thinking more deeply about my son, peanut butter and pasta, and creativity. At first, I couldn’t quite figure out my thoughts. There was no coherence.
Then I started re-thinking my son’s request, from the beginning. I reflected. I thought about pasta. It is made from wheat. Bread is also made from wheat. The absence of jelly reduced the sugar content; if not needed, then great 🤔.
Then it dawned on me. While my first reaction was “Disgusting!” It really was a rejection of someone else’s creativity, and on a base level, a rejection of a different way of thinking.
Now I had clarity. I wondered, “What other ideas have I shot down with my words or non-verbal expressions throughout my career as a leader and follower? What new, creative ideas have I reduced as a husband and father?” More than a few.
With my son as a creativity machine, this experience taught me to think differently about problem-solving, diversity of thought, openness to change, and so forth.
So, I challenge you to look at things differently. Examine all perspectives and all possibilities from all stakeholders. Encouraged and appreciated creativity makes organizations resilient, unique, appealing to consumers/guests, and sustainable.
Next time you have pasta, add some peanut butter. And let me know what happens.
ps Shhhh, don’t tell Roy. I love peanut butter and pasta. Sesame noodles with peanut sauce is just fantastic! Add a little spice like in Thai and Chinese food as well.