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Intellectual vandalism

A friend told me about a house he was building. It took months to get it nearly complete. Lots of work by lots of people, creating something of beauty that everyone could admire. A week before completion vandals broke into the property and ripped the place to pieces, just for fun.

Vandalism sits on the opposite end of the continuum to creativity.

This story has many parallels in the world. An employee spends hours working on a new idea only for their boss to reject it without offering any suggestions for improvement.

A child spends hours on a project only for a teacher to dismiss it without proper acknowledgment.

The hallmark of intellectual vandals is those that only break down without offering an alternative. Criticism is always welcome, if constructive. Intellectual vandals seldom offer anything constructive.

Their interactions mostly consist of vigorous attempts to shoot down ideas and make them less valuable.

The destruction of ideas, thoughts and concepts is much easier than creating new thought. Vandalism is much easier than creativity. As in the example of the “house-breakers”, the “idea-breakers” use a fraction of the energy of the creative.

Like the child who breaks down sand castles on the beach because they are more beautiful than hers, the intellectual vandal looks to bring all ideas down to a size that he can feel less intimidated.


  • Dale Williams

    Dale Williams lives a portfolio life. Working to bring out the best in people, he invests in individuals and businesses where there is mutual benefit. Investment comes in the form of time, expertise or money and returns are expected, either financially or in the form of new learning and experience. He found himself an accidental banker in 2004 when he was asked to head up Standard Chartered Bank's retail business in South Africa. A great experience which confirmed that his skills lay in areas outside of banking. More recently he has developed a portfolio of activities which include Executive Coaching, Lecturing, Facilitating Strategy and Scenario Planning Sessions and occasional writing. He has some entrepreneurial business interests and most importantly, family interests. He enjoys spending time with his two young daughters, his wife, his surfboard, mountain bike, microlight aeroplane and trail running shoes. He has an MA from Middlesex.