The Power of And

And is a conjunction it joins together sentences, clauses, phrases or words. It connects one thing to another. Our language gives us this word as a function word to join ideas together, one concept to another or one item to another. It adds power to your vocabulary because instead of talking about one thing you are talking about two, or three or more.

Several years ago I formed a creativity team. It was a group of people that got together in a room and created. It was one of the most fun groups that I ever worked with. I got the idea from a Disney Imagineer. I had met this guy and brought him in to speak. He was very creative. Disney would get a bunch of these creative people all in the same room and throw a problem out to them just to collect their ideas. They invited people who were used to thinking outside the box. They had lots of unique problems, as you can imagine, and needed unique solutions.

Their only objective was ideas. They would have a goal to fill an entire wall with sticky notes, having nothing but ideas on them. They were not there to solve the problem, someone else would do that. They were there to give the problem solver as many possible solutions as they could come up with. I formed one of these teams. I would get them all in a room filled with pop and candy, get them all sugared and caffeined-up, then throw something out for ideas. We would come up with some of the craziest stuff you’ve ever heard but, within all the craziness was maybe one or two things that we used and was very helpful. And it brought us great joy to be in that room with all these people.

They had a term at Disney called “blocking.” You were not allowed to say, “we can’t do that”, or “that’s stupid.” Nothing negative. You were only allowed to build on the last statement by saying “yes and.” If someone threw out a idea, your follow up was yes and…we could do this or that. It would really get the creative juices flowing because you‘re building the whole time. No one felt stupid or felt like they couldn’t contribute to any idea. 

It’s the power of and. In our black and white society we tend to go one way or the other. There seems to be no balancing point with a lot of issues. Who says you can’t couple sports with cutting hair. That’s a concept that steps outside the natural realm of thinking. It’s the power of and. 

There’s a company called “Sports Clips” that does just that. Gordon Logan has built a multi-million dollar company with the power of and. In the early 1990s He recognized the huge potential, and relative lack of competition in the men’s and boys haircut market. He wanted to create a place where guys could take care of one of life’s necessities— a haircut— and say, “This is my kind of place.” He added one thing to another and it became highly successful.

Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Why couldn’t he have said, “The true sign of intelligence is knowledge and imagination?” Of course I’m not as smart a Einstein, but I can see a flaw in this quote. Imagination without knowledge blows up. Knowledge without imagination dries up. They are both powerful individually, but coupled together, they are beyond powerful.

We did this with the down town Cabin Fever Coffee Shop. My daughter and daughter-in-law started a store next door called Ruby Rose Market. It is a home décor store. We simply opened the door between the coffee shop and their store. Located in the same building, with a small gateway between them, it made sense to let people pass from the coffee shop to Ruby Rose. We gave it a chance, and it opened up a whole new world. Many times people have said to me. “I didn’t even know this door was here.”

What doors are closed in your life, church, business or family that you could open with just the word and, and create a whole new world?

If you have imagination by itself, you have a day dream. Knowledge by itself is just a storage unit. If you have imagination and knowledge together you get Disney World. 

Tim Tracy

Cabin Fever Coffee Shop, 312 Clinton Street, Defiance, OH, 43512