It was business guru, Seth Godin, who popularised the term “Permission Marketing”. Like all new phrases, Permission Marketing emerged from the culture that surrounded it. We had grown tired of its opposite force – “Interruption Marketing” – the barrage of information coming at us from all forms of media. “Buy me! Notice me! Like me!”
For a business to survive in the 21st century, it first needs to gain our trust, our permission, before it tries to engage with us.
Creativity – whether that’s a two word phrase or a whole new concept – is a right-brain activity. The right brain, being the portal to expanded consciousness copes easily with cultural complexity, because it processes information intuitively, in an instant.
Seth Godin is a creative guy.
You can’t imagine him sitting for weeks like Rodin’s man of stone in an agonising process of self reflection (Culture circa 1880)
It’s unlikely that he holes himself up for days in a room with a creative team, bad lighting and a few grams of coke (Culture circa 1980)
He’s too busy to do that (over 20 books, thousands of articles, umpteen businesses and a family.)
But because we’ve lived in a left-brain culture for the past 3000 odd years, our current version of creativity looks a bit like this…
90% thinking and struggling; posturing and tantrums; wrestling dragons and cajoling demons.
9% Fuck it, I’ve got nothing here.
1% Eureka! (The little hit of dopamine, as divine inspiration is finally allowed in).
This is actually left-brain thinking with a quick hat tip to the right brain. Creativity is something we allow in, rather than something we do. In order to allow it in, we first have to create the conditions in which it can thrive.
Let’s move on from the world of Mad Men to the Mad World we currently inhabit.
It’s a mess, to say the least. Because we’re living in the ‘end days’ of left-brain thinking.
Left-brain thinking is focussed (good for getting a job done). It’s analytical (It sees everything clearly, but as separate parts of a whole). In short, it’s a brilliant solution to an immediate problem. The 3 act play of left-brain thinking (in just 3 categories) looks like this…
Health: 1 Strategy to detect tumour. 2 Surgery and chemical warfare. 3 No tumour!
Politics: 1 Strategy to determine bad guys. 2 Kill bad guys. 3 No bad guys!
Existential loneliness: 1 Strategy to find true love. 2 Marriage. 3 Live happily ever after!
But unfortunately WITH LEFT-BRAIN SOLUTIONS, THERE’S ALWAYS THE DAMN SEQUEL!
Health: Tumours come back (the culture in which they grow has not been addressed.)
Politics: For every dead bad guy, there are dozens of sons, brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins and THEY ARE REALLY PISSED!
Existential loneliness: Just far too complex to be solved with a signed piece of paper and a large cake. (Though the joys of a large cake are never to be underestimated when dealing with angst!)
It is of course easy to look at the world and think that all problems were created by men, after all this did happen on their watch, but really it’s been created by our love of left-brain thinking.
It’s also difficult to imagine that right-brain people would have done much better. We’re only just beginning to understand the potential of our right brain and early adopters have sometimes been deluded in their approach. Just like our version of creativity, we approached the right brain THROUGH THE LENS of the left brain. This has had some difficult to reconcile consequences…
Health: It’s difficult to cure a tumour with aromatherapy. Obviously. If a garden is left for a week, it’s easy to pull out a few weeds, but leave it for 20 years and you pretty much need a guy with a tractor.
Politics: It’s difficult to solve terrorism by lighting candles, sending love and recycling. Let’s not forget that the charge of the Light Brigade ended with very heavy casualties! (Haha… one for the new agers!)
Existential loneliness: Or the great soul mate scam. Finding a more evolved partner will make everything better! This is like having the radio tuned to XFM and thinking it will pay classical music IF WE MEDITATE AND WE ARE VERY PATIENT. The kind of love we long for does exist but if our dials are stuck on left-brain mode we end up looking for love in all the wrong places. (Bon Jovi a regular feature of XFM)
Yes the right brain is the portal to mysticism and cosmic consciousness, but we shouldn’t let some of the naive interpretations of the new age deter us from going there. That would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
So back to Seth!
Perhaps instead of a left-brain, right-brain ratio of 90/10 he is more like 80/20 or 70/30 (remember each small increment changes the game significantly). So just imagine what the world could look like if we were all 50/50!!
This is certainly something to aim for. But how to do it?
We can’t talk AT people any more because they’re not listening. They’re inundated with requests for their time, their attention, their eyeballs. They’re exhausted. Because of this exhaustion, they allow popular culture to form most of their opinions.
THIS IS A DISASTER. BECAUSE POPULAR CULTURE LOOKS LIKE FOX NEWS!!
In other words a 3 act play of…
Health: Sponsorship by drug companies and THOUSANDS of commercials for medicines to cure everything from tumours to tiredness (hello? switch off your left brain and get some sleep) and the sadness created by left-brain thinking that can’t find any long term solutions. (A staggering 11% of the population of the US are on anti depressants).
Poltics: Fear. Fear and more Fear. With fear icing.
Existential loneliness. Fox news attempts the higher vibration of cosmic love, ecstasy and tantric sex? I didn’t think so! How about a quick, warm, fuzzy feeling at the end of all that doom and gloom. A FEW KITTENS SHOULD DO IT!
Yes, we are living in the Best of Times and the Worst of Times. And the only thing that will ensure survival of the planet is a radical shift in consciousness to a higher vibration than the one we’ve agreed to live within. A more expanded, creative, right-brain consciousness.
One day people will look back and wonder why we didn’t wake up earlier. And we will say “I didn’t know I was creative” (NEWSFLASH We are all creative) or “I was waiting for the world to validate my creativity (hey! the world is clearly fucked up so is there really any value in validation from that source?) We will say “I was waiting for permission”.
Fair enough, we were raised to be obedient. Not to ask for what we want, not to ask for more. Or as Seth would say “not to make a ruckus”.
But the past does not determine the future.
We have to give ourselves permission to be creative, to trust our right-brain.
We have to turn down the volume on all that “Interruption Marketing” of the left brain – buy this, notice that. Dream about the past (ah! nostalgia) worry about the future (eek! fear), worry about the past (ew! guilt) dream about the future (sigh! fantasy). THIS IS ALL THE INTERRUPTION TACTICS IN THE ARSENAL OF THE LEFT BRAIN!
We have to get off XFM and give ourselves permission to listen to our inner guidance. That quiet voice that wants to be heard.
Tune in to that. Then slowly turn up the volume, and you might smile as you realise…
“Aw… they’re playing our song.”
P.S. Trailer! New creative courses… FOR MEN! Because women are already well served in this arena. Because men sometimes don’t like the woo woo language of the mystical. And because most men don’t even have the consolation of a really good cake.
My mission… No brain left unturned.