What if she wore hats anyway?

On a vibrant, sunny summer afternoon, I played hookey from work for a few hours to connect with two of my favorite people. We met over a picnic lunch at the river front. These two, in their own way, charge my batteries. Can’t explain how or why, just being around them is refreshing. We giggled our way through lunch, and decided this must become habit.

Jean happened to mention she’d found a new business book she was excited to read. After hearing a short description, Kristina and I immediately pledged our support and committed to purchase said book and read along. Someone wondered about birds and stones. Viola! Our book club was born.

We successfully coordinated calendars and booked our next get-out-of-the-office-laughing-mandatory-snorting-guaranteed-food-optional meeting. I arrived at the River totally pumped about our time together. And a little sheepish, because although I purchased said book via Kindle, I hadn’t actually started reading yet. Kristina hadn’t either. {whew!}

But no matter; Jean had not only read a bit, she’d taken notes, bless her heart. She had been prepared to lead the discussion, but we opted instead to take turns reading out loud. O.h.m.i.g.o.s.h. Accents, pronunciations, emphASSis on the wrong sylahbulls …

The premise of the book, in a sentence, is to poke the world with a stick. Challenge assumptions first, identify them later. Go, do, go go go, experiment, it doesn’t have to be perfect. The big question is: what could happen? What if…?

—> Go do, then assess. Don’t overthink it. Analyzing this in my world could be a proverbial can full. So we’ll leave it for now. Maybe later.

There’s a lot of content just in the introduction, crammed between the lines like a motivated traveller having rolled, tucked, and squished a month’s worth of gear into a single piece of carry-on luggage. The author says he has 8 objectives, but they all essentially boil down to challenging the norm of what being “creative” is.

We stopped reading after the challenge on page one of chapter one.

“Think of a way to provoke the world. This will often start with ‘What if I …’ “

–> There is a lot of potential power in those 3 little words, I think… what if I … what if I did, or what if I didn’t?

More hilarity–and yes, a snort or two–ensued as we brainstormed different What IF? scenarios. Nothing too silly, too extreme, too bold, too small, too _____. Poke the world. Poke it like you mean it.

We wondered what sort of uniform a Culturematic would wear. Jean took notes. Somewhere in between testing out different accent options for Culturematic-speak (and discovering we’ve a shared adoration for things like Jane Austen and movie quotables) and whether or not lab coats would be standard issue, the discussion developed a more serious-in-the-sense-that-it-grazed-vulnerability undercurrent when I suggested it wouldn’t be complete without a hat.

–> I’ve always longed to be a “hat person” but never had the ______ (guts, self-confidence, hutzpa, etc) to feel like I could pull it off. I’ve tried on hats over the years and managed to find some reason or other why it didn’t work. Can of Worms #2 (Good news: some time ago an unanticipated hardware malfunction–a busted strap sent contents sprawling–triggered maintenance and some repair of this particular vulnerability. I’m happy to report this baggage is now secure, packed into a small bag (in mostly good repair) that fits neatly in the overhead compartment.)  I still have some baggage to shed, but progress is progress. Claim victory where you can, even if it is just a label. 

Conversational current doubled back and swirled in a whirlpool. McCracken suggests in the intro that things we don’t understand send a useful message: “your models are broken.” *I* understand this particular model, but my friends didn’t. So of course, they started poking it with sticks. Big sticks. Me and my big mouth.

–> It’s worth noting that Jean and Kristina have been present and privy to one or more vaguely alluded to personal growth spurts over the years we’ve been friends. 

“What if Jen wore hats?”

What if, indeed?

Mercifully, McCracken allows it’s OK to rock the vague. Don’t anticipate, figure it out as you go. In fact, he has a formula:

1. Test the world
2. Discover meaning
3. Unleash value

As conversation continued to ebb and flow around other what ifs, I realized my darling friends had just given me a precious gift. At the drop of a hat, (pun intended) they challenged me to stop seeing myself through my own lens of how I think I portray myself, what I think I can do (or wear) and how I think others think of me … because apparently the mirror lies to me.

“What if I saw myself the way others see me? ”

So, {deep breath} testing. To wrap up our first meeting, we all committed to individual what ifs, and promised to report back when we convene for chapter 1.


What if Jen wore hats?