Why You Need to Be a Little Bit Mysterious in Your Business
It’s a known fact that being in nature is healing and rejuvenating.
Roaming a winding footpath in a wild forest or strolling along the beach makes us happier and more content, as well as more energised and motivated to take a step towards our dreams. But what exactly is happening when we’re in nature? Why do we feel so different, compared to, say, having a leisurely walk in the inner city?
That’s a mystery … Well, sort of.
This question has been keeping architects and landscape designers on their toes for a long time, and some of them have embarked on some fascinating research to find out which qualities possessed by natural environments makes a place feel natural. And since my work and passion is all about understanding people’s relationships with their physical environment, I’ve been following their discoveries closely.
Thankfully, a group of smart researchers have found some answers; exactly 14 of them. Members of an organisation called Terrapin Bright Green have identified 14 patterns that define natural environments. The good news, at least for us, architects and designers, is that these patterns can be replicated in other contexts to make a space or experience feel natural, and thus to evoke similar feelings and thoughts as nature does when we leave the urban environment behind.
Some of these patterns are not exactly surprising and have a lot to do with the fact that natural environments tend to be complex, constantly changing places that stimulate all our senses.
However, one of these 14 patterns I find particularly intriguing, which is mystery. But what exactly is mystery?
The nature of mystery.
The researchers mentioned above define it as, “The promise of more information, achieved through partially obscured views or other sensory devices that entice the individual to travel deeper into the environment.”
Let me put this in simple terms. Mystery is what you experience when you don’t see the whole picture, so you feel intrigued and want to explore it. You have a sense of anticipation and the sense that some sort of reward is waiting for you if you keep investigating further.
Encountering mystery can feel wonderful. Even if you’re in a beautiful place already, you feel compelled to find out what’s awaiting you behind the next corner. This is what you experience when you, for example, explore a Japanese garden. The scenery you see is stunning, but still, you can’t help but cross that bridge and peek behind that little mound to see what the rest of the garden looks like.
And as an avid fan of architecture, one of my favourite pastimes is to explore new, ‘mysterious’ buildings and suburbs along my travels.
Of course, mystery can show up in many areas of our lives. Marketers and media curators know this concept really well. There’s a reason why certain TV series or computer games get people hooked, or why you want to watch that movie after seeing the trailer.
Personally, I find it very nurturing to encounter mystery in music and other forms of art. In fact, in my mind, beauty and mystery go hand in hand. Very often when I hear a beautiful song that gives me the chills, or I look at a breathtaking picture, I get the sensation that some doors are opening up somewhere, waiting for me to walk through.
Developing relationships with beautiful and interesting people is no different. You appreciate what you know about them, but you’d love to get to know them better. Very often, there’s something about them that you can’t quite put your finger on.
Mystery in business.
Naturally, mystery has an important role in business. But how can we make sure that our clients want more? That they want to take the next steps?
To find some answers, I like to look into the various experiences in my life when I was taken on a journey of discovery, without feeling any pressure, manipulation, or even effort. Here are a few things I’ve learnt:
1. Wherever you are in nature, the scenery is already complete, but you still want to keep exploring.
Nature doesn’t need to create a void in order to pull you forward. Instead, it offers something new and different at every step. Similarly, a business doesn’t need to hold back on answers that clients need. In fact, creating a sense of dissatisfaction can kill clients’ curiosity. A better option is to leave them in a happy place, but show them a part of the world they haven’t yet seen.
2. Jason Fox writes in the introduction of his insightful book, How to Lead a Quest, “You may find that you are left with more questions than answers. If so, marvellous. This is my gift to you.”
Indeed, a good book, or a transformative life experience for that matter, while providing many answers, also raises many new questions. So, in your business, don’t worry about not knowing all the answers. Instead, make sure that you help your clients ask new questions.
3. Artists, including musicians, photographers and painters, often play with light and shade, which can engender a sense of mystery.
You can also create light and shade in business too, by offering a good variety of different services, changing around your communication, and offering pleasant surprises. You need to be reliable, but not predictable. Refining your niche, and standing at a unique intersection that embodies both light and shade could make your business hard to ignore.
4. Perhaps the most mysterious phenomenon in life is human nature.
Make sure that your business shows real personality. Be honest not only about what you’re great at but also about your challenges and battles. Talk freely about your hopes and wishes. Have the courage to be unique, and to rewrite the rules, if you believe that’s for everyone’s benefit.
With these thoughts, I wish you, your team and your clients a wonderful and mysterious new year.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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