Updated December 2020 with relevant links for our uncertain times
As designers and marketers for trade shows and other dimensional spaces, we often encounter reasons as to why an idea or a concept will not gain momentum.
We are used to hearing phrases like “I am not sure my boss will like it.” “I don't have the authority.” “We can't take the chance.” “We have always done it this way.” “This is just a passing trend.” “I am all for it, but...”.
You get the point. We are too happy to wallow in the safe zone of status quo.
Now, the status quo has been challenged. Covid-19 is forcing us to re-think how we do business. This pandemic has created the kind of chaos that necessitates innovation and adaptation.
Good thing is, designers are taking the matter seriously. They are using this pandemic as opportunity for a passionate reset. And given the challenging shape of 2020, the design trends of 2021 may offer us the biggest breath of fresh air yet.
The Elusive Dance of Passion and Reason
As human beings we have been endowed with the power to reason.
We use it for the smallest detail in our daily survival to the highest abstraction in conducting business.
“From the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have, comes from one attribute of man — the function of his reasoning mind.”
Ayn Rand was a eternal champion of the power of reason.
The very essence of her philosophy, “Objectivism” stresses the concept of happiness as the moral purpose of a mans' life, “with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
However, she also realized that nothing moves without passion. She says,“throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. The great creators, the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors-stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.”
What is Reason? What is Passion? Can they Work Together?
Central to Enlightenment movement of the 17th and the 18th century, were the use and celebration of reason, the power by which humans understand the universe and improve their own condition. The goals of rational humanity were considered to be knowledge, freedom, and happiness.
Reason is a process of observing and understanding the world around us, systematically applying rules of logic and experimentation and generating conclusions that others can follow.
For example, during this pandemic, brands had to be relevant to their audience. Else, they would be tuned out. It is this reason for relevancy that compelled them to seek passionate ways to reach out to their audience. They did it in by offering innovative services and often collaborating with competition.
Passion is commonly used to refer to strong emotions of any type.
To me, passion is not one, but a jumble of emotions – excitement, anticipation, curiosity, desire, love, joy, anger, wonder and empathy – that motivate us to venture deeper and deeper into particular avenues of our interest defined by the passion.
For example, the movement of bitcoin and other crypto currencies that evolved from the ashes of the 2008 financial crisis, was a passionate outburst against the traditional financial institutions that found its' manifestation in the novel blockchain technology — a far cry from the 500 year old banking system established by the Medici family.
These emotions motivate us to move beyond our comfort zone, provide us with the dedication and commitment to build capabilities in certain fields over extended periods of time and help us ultimately to achieve the potential that resides within each of us. We become passionate explorers in our life journey motivated by a desire to gain new insight into a particular domain by working with others to drive performance to new levels.
So, how do passion and reason reinforce each other?
“Think of agency versus structure. Passion provides the first by generating energy and creating a sense of freedom. Reason provides the latter by imposing constraint and discipline.”
Without structure, agency becomes an aimless whirlwind of activity, constantly distracted by the bright lights of momentary insights, but unable lend form, function and finesse. And, of course, without agency, structure remains an inert mass, sinking deeper and deeper into the ground below it, seeing but unable to explore the world around it.
It is the job of passion to empower you with a higher purpose. A purpose, that defines and raises your reason of existence.
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Patanjali
Kahlil Gibran in his classic book, “The Prophet”, put it eloquently:
Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.
If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.
Mind is a powerful mechanism.
“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.”
Human beings are limited only by what we allow ourselves to be limited by: our own minds.
In our minds, we participate in this dance of passion and reason — a symphony of fire and ice in varying fahrenheit.
To realize our full potential, we need to integrate passion and reason in our play and in our work. Reason alone, is cold, calculating, confining and “passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.”
Next time, you encounter, “we do not have budget for it” or “we have never done it that way”, be electrified by the passion of your creative solution but be armed by the sword of your reason. Give it 200% - but be prepared for stumbling blocks. Be alert and pay attention to those stumbling blocks. You will see your passion did not fail you.
It has sprout new shoots in the most diffident projects and ideas.
As we oscillate between passion and reason, I leave you with this thought:
Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows - then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky - then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”
And since you are a breath in God's sphere, and a leaf in God's forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion. Kahil Gibran
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Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. Franz Kafka