When the LLoyds companies had outgrown their old buildings they erected on top of the old one an extraordinary new construction in the very centre of the city of London. The glass and concrete design was a spectacular novelty, but it led to a serious problem: you could not hide the necessary pipes and elevators of the building within the walls. So the architect, Richard Rogers found an extraordinary solution. He simply put the pipes outside the building. Today of course the building is famous for its style, and probably holds a good deal of responsibility for the weird shapes and sizes of the skyscrapers, following over the next decades.
What Rogers really did was think outside the box – literally. He understood, that the space he apparently had to his disposal was not the end of all possibilities. When I first came to London, this ‘thinking outside the box’ was one of those things that struck me as being so extraordinary about this city. Here you are free to try something new, something that has never been done before. In London people will encourage you, and when you have a clear vision, they might even support you. And no, that is not the usual process on our planet. Having lived in other cities as well I know that – in business and social life alike – most obstacles you have to overcome are not natural boundaries; they are largely human made. In most parts of our world the naysayers are a worshiped religion, the moralists are in charge of the law, and money is here to control people’s lives not to give them opportunities. This happens in dimensions a true Londoner cannot even imagine.
London is free, but freedom does not make life easier, it makes it more interesting. Many of my clients invite boundaries, rules and moral guidebooks into their lives. They love their 9 to 5 and they depend on their pay cheque at the end of the month. They are proud of their decent families and they struggle with their balance the moment life packs a punch. Only in their dreams do they become more. Does that make London the city of dreamers? I say it makes it the city where dreams are becoming reality.
People tell me that you either love London or you hate it. There is nothing in-between. I couldn’t agree more. Either you are able to enjoy the freedom of choice and opportunities – with all the dangerous consequences and all the belly-squirming side-effects. Or you prefer a quiet, secure, well-organised life. But if you belong to those who look up at the LLoyds Building and think ‘Gosh, I’d like it to be me, that has such a cool idea,’ then come to London!