The Bandana: Merging Form and Function.


Culture Fuel From the Trail series

This series of posts is inspired by our recent 6-day section hike of the Appalachian Trail, which you can read more about here. Each of these posts offers an insight from our experience on the trail that applies to life and leadership. Enjoy!

“Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”
— Frank Lloyd Wright

It was day one and my bouyant enthusiasm was being systematically dismantled by a 1500-foot climb, about an hour of steep Stair-Mastering! I had already pared down to shorts and T-shirt, but the sweat was still dripping down my forehead and into my glasses. Fortunately, I had anticipated such and tucked a bright orange bandana into my pocket. About every 3 minutes I was whipping it out to wipe my face or my nose. Yeah, that's what they called handkerchiefs in the old days!

Over the next few days I realized that, even in mild weather, when I push my body in exercise, my nose begins to drip like a leaky faucet. It was annoying...and my bandana became even more valuable. By day two I was getting tired of having to fish it out of my pocket every few minutes, so after trying several locations, I eventually had the brain wave of tying it around my neck cowboy-style (You'll see it peeking out of my jacket in the photo). Always there. Close to where it was needed. And as an added bonus, I made an astounding fashion-statement among the hiking community.

Form and function merged. Brilliant.

So how does form and function merge in your life and leadership? There are dozens of real-world applications to this simple concept--advertising and marketing is probably the most common place where the two come together. But form and function also apply to things as diverse as org charts, project management, and strategic plans. Today, however, let's look at two ways that form and function can inform your personal life rhythms:

  1. Look for convergences. The difference between forcing and finessing is epic. It is truly a thing of beauty when the opportunity emerges for "two birds with one stone." A few examples: Bike-riding with a friend--physical fitness merges with relationship building. Fixing the lawn mower with your son--economic utility merges with mentoring. Taking your spouse on a business trip--job requirement merges with vacation. Strategic convergences often bring a task and a relationship together.
  2. Live seasonally. Form and function are also reflected in the natural seasons: each season has its own beauty and its essential function in the cycle of growing things. In addition, many of us are shaped by school seasons. Other forces may provide predictable rhythms to your life. One of my mid-Texas friends recently described her seasons as Almost Summer, Summer, and Still Summer. Whatever your seasons, look for the natural ebbs and flows and work with them instead of against them.

You can push against the needs of form and function, or you can look for ways to bring them together. My invitation to you is to take a moment and consider where they are merging in your world now. Just ask the bandana.


Posted on May 13, 2014 .