The discovery of natural selection as part of evolution is currently being heralded as various anniversaries are marked connected with Charles Darwin. I came across this due to the BBC’s awesome natural history department popping all sorts of films about it all on their iPlayer.
One of which, focusing on what Darwin himself didn’t know 150 years ago, featured the fascinating example of Great African Lakes. It seems that several thousand years ago, upon formation a single fish, a Cichlid, was left to swim alone. From this one, isolated creature, evolution has provided anywhere between 400-600 different species of Cichlid today. This feat is remarkable for two reasons. Principally, Lake Malawi has more species of fish than all the lakes and rivers of Europe and North America combined. In addition, it is not a unique situation. Students of evolution are fascinated that almost the exact same thing also happened in another African Lake, with startling similarities between the evolved species meaning that evolution could have patterns that lead to predictions.
This struck me as extraordinary. How can a place occupying only a tiny fraction of the planet’s available water-based habitat and that began with zero diversity, blossom in short a relatively short space of time to become the world’s most abundant cradle of life?
And in terms of sales, this is extraordinary. I think there’s a simple parallel between this evolutionary tale and the creativity which we as salespeople are expected to conjure on a daily basis.
When you’ve got all the world’s resources at your disposal, a blank sheet of paper, few parameters or boundaries, then creativity will occur at a measured, perhaps even laboured and mundane, rate. The moment you place stringent limits on what you can do, with stark seemingly insurmountable constraints, then that’s when you start to get stellar results. And Lake Malawi is the inescapable proof.
So, next time you are set, or indeed yourself set, a task requiring some level of creativity, it’s clear that the tighter the box within which you think, the greater the results you should force out.