A dog barked, or so I thought, as I reclined in my Lazy-Boy and tried to watch the evening news. It barked again, but it didnt sound like the deep bark of my Rottweiler, Rosie.
Suddenly Nicholas, my 4-year-old, trotted into the living room on all fours, wagging an imaginary tail and panting like his 128-pound canine friend. My son was leashed and following the directions of his 8-year-old sister, Megan, who paraded him around the house.
I dont want to be a dog anymore, he finally said.
So they began to build an amusement park out of colored blocks. Then they played house. And school. And they built a tent between the chairs. Then, just as I was beginning to doze, I felt a tug on my arm.
Daddy, would you be a horse?
A what? I asked, annoyed that he woke me up.
You know, a horse, he persisted. Would you crawl around and let us ride you?
So I dragged my middle-aged frame out of the chair and crawled onto the floor.
Giddyup, he yelled as he swatted my butt.
As a horse, I admittedly felt more like a horses behind as I entered their world of make-believe. But I played along, bucking and trotting and neighing as I went. This whole play and imagination and dreaming thing proved awkward for me at first.
Then it dawned on me: Seeing our world from their level and with their sense of imagination offered me an entirely new perspective. From all fours, I could see where I missed a spot on my freshly painted wall. I found change I had dropped.
Looking up, I imagined how the living room must look to my kids or my dog. And I realized, when I banged my head on the corner of a table, how it must feel.
And yes, for a moment, I was that horse they rode fearlessly onto the plain that was my living room. Then I pulled myself back into my recliner and back to reality, while my kids just kept on dreaming.
The experience made me wonder why cant we seem to play and dream and imagine the way kids do? Why do so many business owners lie back in their proverbial recliners and watch the world go by from that one prone position?
This months cover story is all about getting out of your recliners and looking at the world from your knees. Or your back. Or the top of a tree. Anywhere except from where youve been viewing things.
Before the subjects of this months cover story finally did that, they set out on a quest for a new brochure, maybe even a new logo. But by the time marketing guru Dan Droz got finished with them, they realized they needed to dramatically change the way they did business. And they needed a brand.
Getting business owners to such a point is no easy task, however. Droz says he first has to convince his clients that a new brochure will only scratch the surface of what may be ailing their companies. Then somehow, he gets them to play, as he calls it.
He sits them in a creative environment and slowly prods them to drop their mature, adult-induced inhibitions and imagine what they could be. Getting them beyond the first myopic horizon typically becomes his biggest challenge.
Tony Gyke, owner of an all-too-seasonal motor boat repeller repair service for the middle-aged, for instance, envisioned selling mail-order repeller parts to Floridians. But by the time he was done playing, he had transformed his small business into Ultimate Edge, a company that sells snowboards, skateboards and wake boards, among other extreme sports paraphernalia, to kids with green hair and pierced lips. Who would ever have imagined it?
If you havent done so in a while, take the time to look at how youre doing business and how others see you but look from a totally different perspective than you usually do. Let down your guard. Use the imagination you gave up as a kid.
Oddly enough, its the same message Ive tried to instill in my own kids with the following poem I once wrote when I was bored:
The wind paints shifting landscapes in the sky
With backgrounds blue as shallow island pools.
See one shape, then another are we fools?
No, look two mountains formed look close, they fly.
Gaze long enough, a cotton mass takes shape.
Imagine, then, this mass a trotting horse
With rider racing toward its westward course.
But winds blow hard and let the horse escape.
Glance upward once again, behold the gale
Has dabbed its canvas with some paint anew
To offer those below a changing view;
For now the horse a boat has raised its sail.
Look skyward, friend, and you can surely see
The winds artistic flair with clouds so white,
The flowing, drifting canvasses so bright,
Take shape your dreams, if you would set them free.
Without this keen desire to seek and find
The shapes imagination can reveal,
The wind, in all its magic, will conceal.
For dreams and vision cultivate the mind.
And, if youll let it, your business. Can you say neigh? Daniel Bates (email@example.com) is editor of SBN.