Go Around the Leaf

I want you to watch this part from the opening scene of “A Bug’s Life.”

In my 3rd year at school, one of my professors started out the class by showing this video. In the context of school, the “lost” ants are most often students. When there’s any bit of ambiguity to an assignment, students’ first reaction is to freeze up and call for help. However, you must learn to go around the leaf, because guess what, ambiguity happens. What my professor wanted us to realize is that, you won’t get very far if you aren’t willing to go around the leaf. The fact of the matter is, there won’t always be someone there to come to the rescue.

In a professional context, when you aren’t getting enough information out of a client, you need to go around the leaf (ask more questions, and continue pressing on). Inversely, you need to ensure that no leaves fall on the path of your client. In that case, you must be Mr. Soil who runs over, arms flailing, saying “Do not panic! Do not panic! We are trained professionals!”

However, there’s something particularly interesting that happens as Mr. Soil navigates the ants around the leaf. There’s a sense of joy and accomplishment which seems to rush over the ant as they’re rerouted back to the line. While the goal, most often, is to avoid leaves falling on your client’s path, you can intentionally plan for leaves to block the path so that you can deliberately create these moments of joy or help them have their own “aha” moments. In the case of branding, you might find yourself pitching various concepts that’ll serve as the foundation for the brand. While you may have some preliminary ideas for the website that’ll tie back to the concept at large, you can purposefully leave out those ideas for the time being so that it appears as though all of the pieces are falling perfectly into place as you further develop the brand. In the beginning, you allow for a small sense of ambiguity so that you may then show your client around the leaf. Following the nature of this post, I’ll leave it at that.