20 years ago everything should be “real” or authentic. “Keeping it real” aimed for a down-to-earth attitude. But the new, unadorned authenticity also had its pitfalls. Anyone who spoke authentically, said what was going through his mind was likely to offend, hurt or insult (accidentally or intentionally) somebody else. And to be honest, even without insults, nobody wants to experience the unfiltered truth or the irreconcilable complexity of a personality in every context.
So, Political Correctness was a welcomed countermovement. People paid more attention to what and how they said something. That is definitely to be welcomed and has drawn our attention to many grievances that were insufficiently questioned beforehand. But in an exaggerated way, political correctness degenerated into a cumbersome dance around the bush, around the unpleasant truth that no one wants to hear, no matter how elegantly you put it in words.
In addition, both imperatives were difficult to reconcile. Or how many people do you know who are absolutely authentic and politically correct to the bone? See. Everyone tends to have a fascist, racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory thought once in a blue moon- no one can help it. Political correctness therefore sometimes felt like a corset, while liberating authenticity did not go down well per se and cemented prejudices that we believed to have overcome.
“Mindfulness” – a new trendy imperative of recent times – helped/enabled us to recognize this. We step out of situations, question them, reflect on ourselves and others, understand subtexts and, over time, get better and better at understanding connections and breaking vicious circles. And in the capitalist system it can be life-changing if you unmask the supposed career ladder as a hamster wheel and, for example, give the family more space. The planet will also thank us if we treat it more mindful (read: respectful or sustainable). But this romantic bubble threatens to burst with the demand for “boldness”.
“Bold” doesn’t ask how others feel about it – it’s about winning. Not about the small victory but about slaughtering the final boss.
As Tony Gaskins, a motivational speaker, puts it: “The doors will be opened to those who are bold enough to knock”. Is bold, the courage, the bravery, the trust, so to say the “Just do it”-mantra of 2021?
Yes and no. It’s about having confidence and trust in your own strength, about competing with the will to win. It’s also about shedding genteel restraint if you want to achieve something. And let’s look at the current problems in the world: Corona, global warming, poverty. The time to weigh or hesitate has expired. Courageous decisions must be made that will not please everyone and cause many inconveniences. But if we are timid, crises and disasters will decide (for) us.
The demand for more “boldness” – also in design – is therefore more than understandable. But let’s not pervert the demand. Being bold does not preclude prudence. Unless we allow it.
Bold is unmistakably not exclusive, decidedly not headless, courageous and not despondent. “Bold” has the potential to make the best of the three demands presented above.
So if you are asked in the next meeting whether something is “bold enough” – pause, look closely, search for the indispensable will to win in the work presented and say goodbye to playing it safe. You may have to go back to the drawing board, but a bold, courageous (not ill-considered) concept wins hearts and minds much more easily than a half-baked draft.
Or as Captain T. Kirk would put it in our case:
„Design: the final frontier. These are the voyages of INDEED Innovation. Its ten-year mission: to explore circular ecosystem innovations. To seek out new measures and new partners. To boldly go where no one has gone before!“
(original: „Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!“)