“We need the books that affect us like disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.” ~ Franz Kafka
The first time I read Kafka’s quote, I almost collapsed from its beauty, and its charge. What a powerful and exciting responsibility!
Kafka’s words had the intended effect: they woke me up, called me to action, and stirred my imagination. Yes, it is the writer’s job to move us — transform us — and reveal to us new ways of seeing, feeling, and being in the world. I would argue that is not only the writer’s job, but is also the mission and duty of all creators, entrepreneurs, and leaders.
It is our ongoing quest to resist the mundane and scour the edges of possibility in the everyday, so that we may bring forth the sacred, the unique, and the artful execution. True leadership of self and that of others rests upon our ability to transcend the easy route of offering another bland commodity to the marketplace.
In seas of sameness that dull the senses, the innovative product or service electrifies. We cannot help ourselves. We are attracted like bees to a colorful, fragrant flower to the inventive, the clever, and the unique experience.
We face an enemy each day on our path to achieve the Wow Factor: fear.
Fear keeps us thinking small — thinking the ingenious idea is too risky, too expensive. Fear tells us believable tales that too much is riding on this choice or that. That failure is not an option and is to be avoided at all costs.
Fear keeps us frozen.
If we succumb to fear, our creative works suffer. Our readers and customers miss an opportunity to connect to the world in new ways that free them from ancient bonds. A false sense of safety via staying the course grinds us all down eventually.
Pick up the axe of innovation and creativity. Be bold. Embody the fiery pursuit of the dazzling. Take us all to our own great thaw.