Have you ever heard of Tall Poppy Syndrome? It essentially says that the flower which stands out above all the rest will be the first to be cut down.
Basically, it says that people should be humble and not try to make themselves appear better than others.
While this particular saying dates from ancient Greece and is well known throughout many Commonwealth countries, especially Australia and New Zealand, there are other similar proverbs in many countries which stress humility.
For example, in Japan there is a similar proverb, saying:
The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
While humility in general can be valuable advice, it can have a strongly negative effect on a person’s willingness to express their ideas and develop their creativity. Especially for shy or introverted people, or those from conservative cultures and backgrounds, the social pressure to not brag or seem like you are upstaging anyone can make people anxious about sharing creative ideas they have, or even question the way things are currently done in order to find better solutions.
This means a lot of people never feel free to express their ideas, especially if they are rough to begin with.
Tall Poppy Syndrome is effectively chopping down ideas before they have had a chance to grow.
As an alternative, I think we should all develop a personal Tall Weed Syndrome.
Tall Weed Syndrome
Poppies, and many other plants, will die if you chop them down.
But weeds, they are just hard to kill.
You can squash them, cut them down and sometimes even burn them, but they will continue to spring back and grow again. They have strong roots from which the plant can recover and grow again.
So if we develop a Tall Weed Syndrome mentality, it is ok to share your idea and have it cut down by others.
We can then say “Ok, that one idea wasn’t great. But I have others, and will try letting them grow as well!”
If you strengthen your creative roots, you can develop the willingness and ability to keep growing new ideas, having them grow taller and taller.
Yes, some of them might get cut down.
Maybe all of them will be cut down, one after the other.
But if you just keep sprouting new ideas and letting them grow, eventually one or more will flower.
Strengthen your roots and keep executing those ideas.
Latest posts by Nick Skillicorn (see all)
- Conan O’Brien quote on doing great creative work - March 5, 2021
- Podcast S5E105: Perry Marshall – Detox, Declutter, Dominate - March 4, 2021
- Sarcasm can boost creativity in teams (well yeah, obviously…) - March 3, 2021
- Don’t be a Superfluous Man - March 2, 2021