Split: Creativity cannot be confined
In the film Unbreakable (2000), the character of David Dunn becomes the hero he’s meant to be by engaging with his nemesis – Elijah. Dunn confronts his challenges to become stronger – to become something he’d never imagined. By altering the mental frameworks in which he operates, by believing that alternatives exist and refusing to be limited by the realities he faced and those imposed by mainstream societal beliefs and norms, he created an alternative super-reality.
While Unbreakable explores the idea of superseding the norm, Split (2016) – the sequel – highlights the degree to which we can actualise and manifest superhuman biological shift in line with our reframing of reality. Kevin is the central character – or characters rather, as his mind manifests 24 separate personalities; he has dissociative identity disorder (DID). Split explores the extent to which the mind can manifest alternate realities; once Kevin’s mind switches to an alternate personality (or alter), this manifests physically; his eyes even change colour and his body takes on the most astounding physical changes. Studies have shown that a DID patient’s personalities can have different physical responses – some might be allergic to an allergen (for instance a wasp sting), but once a non-allergic alter takes over, the physical reaction recedes and the patient is physiologically unaffected by the allergen. These changes occur within seconds and can be sustained for as long as the alter is in control.
Let’s for a moment imagine the positive physical manifestations we can immediately and so drastically realise; the placebo within each of us. What else might we be able to manifest that lies beyond the constraints of the known, that is seemingly impossible?
Gandhi led the seemingly impossible-but-possible campaign for India’s independence of colonial British rule, despite 200 years of segregation and institutionalised financial, cultural, and agrarian crippling. He did so without an incident of violence.
Martin Luther King Jr. was heavily influenced by Gandhi, and, believing in the equality of all humans, fought for equal rights in the US, focusing his efforts on manifesting tangible (not just legal) change in the daily lives of millions of black Americans.
Gandhi influenced many more, including Nelson Mandela, who would spend 27 years of his life in prison, working daily not just to survive the torture of incarceration, but actively fighting the Apartheid system, mindset, and people who put him there in the first place. By the end he achieved the seemingly impossible; a democratic South Africa; the end of institutionalised, legal segregation and systemic handicapping of more than 90% of the South African population. And he would go down in history as a leader among leaders, having built a rainbow nation.
How did these great humans – broken by the system – transcend not just their contexts, circumstances, and realities, but manifest significantly alternate realities that positively affected millions around the world and became the new normal? That answer is simple – they trusted their ideologies and beliefs; they created versions of the world they believed and lived into these, despite their versions being so far outside the prevailing sentiments of the time. Despite being abnormal, impossible, irrational, and unachievable, they lived and died into them as though it were real.
The lone nut, Gandhi, King Jr., Mandela and Biko, garnered massive followings because of their dreams, their determinedness to follow them, and their action-orientation (notwithstanding it being insane by a sane person’s point of view). Believers of their messages – whether dance, peaceful resistance, or black consciousness – were compelled to follow, support, and act in congruence. The collective works together toward the same belief to manifest the change. Herein is the leap – how do we believe, support, and follow without evidence!? We don’t! It’s belief that is the departure point, not evidence.
And it does not matter who leads and who follows – the work is the same; believe, then act on reality in order to change it. As a business, TPA has a track record of believing, acting, and changing. In the last 10 years alone, as a collective, we have generated R1 billion in revenue and delivered over 900 incredibly successful projects. We’ve done so with 130 inspired hearts. We’ve done so despite competing with the McKinseys, Bains and Deloittes of the world. We’ve impacted 10 million South Africans at head and heart levels, reframed what human means in the context of human resources, and redefined the philosophy of leadership as an absolute separator.
And this is not independent of hard business metrics: we’ve driven 80% increases in sales pipelines for multinational companies, achieved unparalleled NPS, launched a state-owned telco into mobile, readied 450 unrepentant electoral commissioners and presiding officers to deliver a world-rated and then benchmarked election for 56 million South Africans, brought the biggest cell provider in SA back to number one in terms of customers and people, moved a broken retailer into number one in the Orange Index for nine of their brands in SA in just 24 months, and taken one of the newest bank entries into number ONE in SAcsi in just 90 days. To name but a few.
All this did not happen because we are more brilliant, talented, or special. It happened because we believed we could do it differently, creatively, and with greater impact. We believe that every single client we touch will be left exponentially and fundamentally shifted by the work we’ve done. We believe that we are a force for the highest good; that we liberate possibility and potential within people.
Today, things feel different because they are. We are constrained, physically as we’ve never been, and emotionally, by unprecedented change, fear and uncertainty. But we have control. Our perspective, focus and resolve may remain. We can rework the restraints, reimagine the challenges, and adopt the narrative that anything is possible.
Never forget that we do this #bettertogether. TPA is made up of team members who in their own right are amazing individuals, but who believe that – as a team – we are undefeatable. We are a team curious to the point of obsession, courageous in doing things normal people think are insane, and who – notwithstanding the odds – get up, dress up, show up, never give up and claim our space as we get sh!t done. I see this attitude mirrored in the people of South Africa; united, we fundamentally understand that this is our moment to play to our highest contribution – to the best and beyond ourselves, together. We are limited only by our imaginations.
And if we continue to delimit our imaginations, what then? What else is possible? What else can we engender individually, as a business and as a country? What new stories can we imagine and believe in? What new super-reality can we manifest?
We have forever made an imprint on the hearts of the millions we’ve worked with. How many more hearts and lives do we touch? In my view … that number is limited only by what we can imagine.
Yours in imagination,