February 29 is leap year day, an odd day marked by odd customs intend to underline just how unnatural the day really is. Take for example the conflation of Li’l Abner’s Sadie Hawkins Day with some older customs that upset the “natural order” by putting women in charge. So we have a day when women are allowed to propose marriage to men <gasp!> and we have events at which women are allowed to invite men to dance <gasp!>.
While those traditions may be shocking in some quarters, I’d like to propose a gender-neutral alternative for celebrating Sadie Hawkins Day: Look for constructive ways to upset the natural order. What do I mean by this? Here are some suggestions:
- Before you do something the same way for the 99th time, ask yourself if there is another, better way of doing it.
- Before you do anything, consider whether it needs to be done at all or whether it can be delegated.
- When you see everything sitting neatly in its place, ask yourself whether a little disorder around the edges might in fact energize things.
- If you’re used to working in a top-down, command-and-control fashion, look for ways to loosen the reins and let things flow bottom-up.
- If your professional life is focused on managing knowledge stocks, consider what it would mean to facilitate knowledge flows instead.
- Imagine what else might be possible if you decided to give up Just One Thing.
This isn’t about change for change’s sake. Rather it’s about giving yourself permission to break out of your rut and discover a new perspective. Some of the experiments might fail, but I guarantee that you will learn something of value if you approach this in the spirit of exploration and intellectual honesty.
While Sadie Hawkins events traditionally promised romance to the lovelorn, I’m afraid my approach won’t deliver a heartthrob. However, I suspect that you might discover something nearly as wonderful — innovation and insight. That’s not a bad return for one odd day.