Unintended connections ...

Last week I posted a bit about how refreshing it was to sort through my vast library and make decisions about what to keep and what to toss.  Reading that sentence, I think, really?  Sorting through books is energizing or refreshing?  Maybe you just had to be there or be in the mood ... at the time it was fun and felt really good. Never mind the fact that I challenged you to think about what "books" in your life you might toss ... I promised you that I would give you the background on why my books are organized by color.

A few years ago, I was Skyping on a regular basis with a colleague in Portugal who lived with a woman from Denmark. You know that Denmark "owns" interior design, right?  They are the best.  One day, while skyping, I noticed this fabulous colored wall behind him; it looked like a tapestry. When I inquired about it, he told me it was not fabric - that it was actually shelves of books. As he brought the camera close for me to see the details, I could indeed see that the lovely tapestry was actually books, organized by color.  WHY???

He explained that his girlfriend was tired of him whining about the organization of his books. He could never seem to get the categories right, and was constantly frustrated as he tried to remember what category held the book he was searching for.   When he was on a trip out of the country, she took every book off of the shelves and replaced them in groups of color. Sounds really weird, doesn't it?

Once you get past the weird factor, open up your mind to the possibilities.  Many of us remember things by color ... I can tell you what color a book is, even when I can't remember the exact title or the name of the author.  So, my friend found that he was actually finding books easier now that they were in no particular order. He would simply go to the color and then right to the book.

That's cool, but there's more.  Because the books are randomly grouped, with the only commonality being the color of their book, we find strange titles next to each other.  I am looking at my own shelf now and see ... Moral Intelligence next to Executive EQ ... Made to Stick next to The Consultative Approach ... You Can Do It next to The Power of Nice.   I would never put those books in the same category because they don't fit together. Now, when I find the book I want, I glance at the books on either side of it. I pull them both off and glance at the table of contents or open to a few random pages and read a sentence or two. AND, I force myself to relate what I read in one book to what I read in the other book. The linkages I have been able to create are amazing!    I think it has helped me create connections from things that typically have nothing in common, and that's not a bad skill to have. Everyone can benefit from being able to build bridges between disparate ideas, don't you think?

Looking at your bookshelf? Tempted to pull every last book off the shelf and reorganize right now?  What the heck? It's not permanent - if you don't like it, you can put it back into categories. But, isn't it tempting to create a wall of color and see what unintended connections await?

If you decide to try it, I'd love to read your comments on what you discovered.

If this wasn't your thing, and you are rolling your eyes, stay tuned when Random Wisdom heads in a very different direction next time.


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