Friday, 14 August 2020

Put first things last

Beethoven was struggling with finding a suitable theme for the last movement of his 1st Symphony. He had written the first movement's music and was working on the other movements that would lead towards his finale.

But this last music still stubbornly eluded him.

He toiled for some considerable time, trying out but always discarding many melodies, rhythms and harmonies.

Then, whilst reflecting upon the music in front of him (which was that of the first movement), two questions suddenly occurred to him:  

What if the first movement was really where he had been trying to get to all along? What if the first movement was really the culmination of his symphony's musical journey rather than the start?

Now, seeing the first movement as the finale, the final destination towards which he was travelling, Beethoven discarded the rest of the music he had written for the symphony and began to write new music: music that poured onto the page and flowed satisfyingly towards a final climax.

By putting first things last, Beethoven unblocked his thinking, released his creativity and created his first symphonic masterpiece.

What would happen if you put a first thing last? 

That first task of the day: what tasks would you do before it if you made it the last task of the day? How might doing this affect your efficiency and effectiveness?

That part of the solution you completed first: what could come before it? How would this change the nature and effectiveness of the overall solution?

That person you meet first: who would you meet beforehand if you met him or her last? How might this affect your relationships with people? How might this change your understanding of people?

That place you visit first: what places would you visit beforehand if you went there last? How might this change your perception of the people you meet and your understanding of the things that you see?

That first chapter of a book or first paragraph of a chapter: how would the narrative change if the chapter was put at the end of the book or the paragraph was put at the end of the chapter? What new insights and ideas might emerge?

That first part of your presentation: what topics would you present before it if you put it last? How would this change the emphasis and impact of your presentation?