My daughter is still quite young.
Very young, actually.
Izobel is five years old.
I avoided the inevitable with Izobel for the first four years of her life.
And I impressed myself!
But recently, the inevitable happened.
Izobel, somehow, became aware of their existence.
And whilst her awareness of them has not transformed her life or mine, it has impacted the narrative – just a little bit – each time she and I leave the house.
This includes buzzing to the shops, longer trips to local towns or any family holiday at all. None of these will ever be the same.
It was McDonald’s first.
Then Burger King.
Probably because McDonald’s outnumbers Burger King by almost three-to-one in the UK.
But today, at five years old, Izobel is aware of both.
McDonald’s and Burger King.
All things in moderation, and all that.
The occasional trip to one or other of these two fast food giants is probably OK for Izobel, and indeed any five-year-old.
And it was something Izobel said and did whilst at one of these restaurants that has inspired this little tale.
One Saturday, just before a very expensively ticketed trip to see ‘Wrestlemania’ in Newcastle, five-year-old and I Izobel had an hour to kill in Newcastle city centre.
Izobel was hungry.
And what I allowed to happen next was very unusual in that I had never allowed it to happen before.
Basically, Izobel and I did not visit McDonald’s or Burger King.
We visited both.
The Two Burger Bar Strategy.
Hungry, five year old Izobel had her usual plain cheeseburger.
First in McDonald’s.
Then another in Burger King.
I’ll explain my strategy.
The Two Burger Bar Strategy as I now to call it.
Imagine me leaning-in to you as I let you in on my thinking.
Imagine me checking left, then right, before saying a word.
Then imagine me eventually looking you straight in the eye, speaking in hushed tones, and confiding in you…)
“These two burgers.
One hotdog at the stadium.
(Then imagine me tapping the right side of my nose with my right forefinger, as I slowly lean back and raise my eyebrows as if I’d just explained how I’d closed the best business deal of my life).
Anyhow, this Two Burger Bar Strategy raised a spontaneous question for me.
Which did Izobel prefer?
Or Burger King?
McDonald’s or Burger King?
Izobel, up until then, always preferred McDonald’s.
Better toys, apparently.
And a nicer looking bun.
But something happened on that particular day that swung things the other way.
Something happened at Burger King that made Izobel light up, and defect.
To Burger King.
As Izobel sat in Burger King, she looked down at her cheeseburger.
After thinking for a while, between her carefully pincered thumb and forefinger, she plucked one of the seeds from the top of the burger bun.
This is something Izobel could never do in McDonald’s of course, as McDonald’s buns don’t have seeds.
Izobel then held the single seed up to my gaze, and said this,
“I would like to grow a burger.
So when we get home, I would like to plant this seed please.
And I will water it.
I know what to do because we’re doing it at school.
I like this burger.
And I would like to grow another.
Izobel’s eyes didn’t move from mine as she waited for a response.
I had a decision to make.
And after a few seconds, not wanting her to be disappointed, I spoke,
It doesn’t quite work like that.”
“I am not sure that this or any seed will grow into a burger.
It’s just not the way it works.”
Her eyes staying fixed on mine.
And she blinked again.
Said Izobel eventually,
“I’ll plant it anyway.”
The Other Side of Crazy.
Most of our lives.
Most of the people we meet will, with closed eyes, a snigger and a slow shake of the head, tell us that the seeds we want to plant won’t grow into what we want them to.
And that’s a shame.
Because to get to the truly great ideas, we almost always have to take a clear and stubborn route through the crazy ideas.
Because that’s where I think great is.
On the other side of crazy.
‘Crazy’ being free-flowing thinking, judgement-free blurting and boundaryless, adventurous concept creation.
The main reason that people close their eyes, snigger, slow-shake their head and tell us that the seeds we want to plant won’t grow into what we want them to, is because most people live in the world of the probable.
Rather than the world of the possible.
They are basing likely outcomes on what has gone before.
And where is the adventure in that?
Life Is An Adventure
Do something. Get something.
Do something. Get something.
Do something. Get something.
That’s the way so many people live their lives.
“If I probably do this.
I’ll probably get that.”
Little loops of investment and return.
And it’s oh so very, very boring.
Just ‘DO something’.
To see what happens.
Enjoy the journey.
Enjoy the adventure.
The journey and the adventure teach us so much more than a boring input/output approach to life.
Life is an adventure!
So treat it as such.
But Then Again. What Can A Five Year Old Teach Us?
The counter to this?
Well, the counter of course is, what can a five-year-old teach us about any of this?
What can a five-year-old teach us about how to live our lives?
And what the heck does a five-year-old know about how burgers are made?
Burger King burgers are butchered from cows!
Except of course – as a lovely couple’s conversation as they were entering Burger King and Izobel and I were leaving Burger King remind me – they’re not.
“Ah there they are Claire.
Up there on the menu.
I’ve heard about those.
Let’s try one.
The Impossible Whopper.
They’re made from plants, you know.”
Plant the Seed.
It looks like Izobel was right, then.
About two things.
First, you can grow burgers from seeds.
And she got another thing right too.
For herself, for me, and for everybody.
What five year old Izobel said to me on that day really is worth remembering.
No matter what anybody says to you.
“I’ll plant it anyway”.