Wednesday, August 12, 2009

You Look But You Don't See?

I was at my work desk at home the other day, in deep thoughts...

I stared at the Lenovo notebook and the Acer netbook on the desk and my mind went traveling a fair bit. Some thoughts developed into questions. Some thoughts developed into ideas. Some thoughts made me laugh in my head. Some thoughts were, to me, plain silly and they shall be kept out of view.

After a while, I wrote
"A Tale Of Two PCs" based on those thoughts.

I was not planning to do a tech article for I did not know how. Essentially, I was just riding on two simple objects found in the house, relate them to what is going on and give the matters some thoughts.

Sometimes, if we give a further thought to simple things around us, we may get some new ideas or even acquire some new knowledge along the way. The thing is, many of us are not observant enough. Even if we are, we may not add significance to what we observe.

Experts say that typically, we have 60,000 thoughts a day. I know I do think a lot but still, 60,000 is a huge number. Now that we know we think that much, the question is what goes into those thoughts?

Plain thoughts yield little goodness and negative thoughts can cause much harm. Each day, if our thoughts are mostly positive, constructive and creative, we can emit great powers from the brains. Over time, we can only become smarter.

How do we do that?

Quite easy actually. Just consciously apply these two simple questions to simple things around us and reap great wisdom from the habit.

Question No.1 on 'Observation': "What is it that I have noticed?"

We can look harder at things we see, read widely, talk to people outside our profession, try new types of food and discover something small but new each day. New information can excite our brains and make us think.

Question No. 2 on 'Significance': "So what if it is....?"

At the end of Question 1, we should have acquired some facts. Based on what we have learned, throw a "So what?" question back at ourselves. It is not useful if we just know the facts on the surface. We have a powerful brain capable of storing a large amount of data as well as processing and analyzing them. Make good use of our brains.

We should not just be a walking encyclopedia knowing 'impressive' facts such as "most elephants weigh less than the tongue of a blue whale" and "the first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's gum".

So what??

According to the World Toilet Organisation based in Singapore, an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to sanitation.

Nice fact, but what can we do with it?

Well, most of us will instinctively see this as a problem and discard the information after that.

Some of us may deposit it into our 'data bank' and take no action. Perhaps, one day we may share it at a cocktail party and impress someone.

A wise businessman would have seen this as a multi-million dollar business opportunity as there lies a big raw market for him to provide affordable basic sanitation solutions.

There you go, the same piece of information can lead to different thoughts.

Occasionally, I like to set my music player to 'shuffle' mode. Very often, a long forgotten favorite tune may come up and get me all refreshed. The feeling is really great and I would go, "Hey! Where have you been all this time?" The thing is, all the tunes (thousands of them) have been sitting in there, waiting for me to get to them. They are not going anywhere, not unless I delete them.

The same goes with the things around us. Many things are just next to us, waiting for us to discover. I confess that I can be quite oblivious to things and people around me and I realise that many people are like me too.

A few years ago, I was attending a training session relating to creativity. The trainer asked all the participants to keep our wrist watches. Initially, I was under the impression that he did not want a class of clock-watchers. As it turned out, he asked us to recall all the details on our watches and sketch on a piece of paper.

I was wearing an old watch that was with me for some years and I thought the exercise was a piece of cake. As I began to sketch, I realised that I could not recall many details on the face of my watch.

It was a little wake-up call for me. It made me realise that even though I had 'looked' at my watch thousands of times, I did not 'see' most of its features. I was not even able to recall if the numbers on the face were 'Arabic' (1,2,3...) or 'Roman' (I, II, III ...).

When I watched Stephen Wiltshire, dubbed the living camera, draws Rome after viewing it from the air, I was convinced of the huge potential of our brains. We may not be able to draw like Wiltshire but if only we pay more attention to every other thing around us, we can surely add more substance in the things we usually do. (see this amazing video)

I have since learned the importance of being observant. I am now more conscious and would pay more attention to details which I might have neglected in the past.

I wrote about being committed to 'Active Listening' in
"Listen! It's Been A Year!". Similarly, we need to 'listen' actively to our observation. When we see things through the lens of a new context, we gain a broader perspective.

Observation, together with 'asking questions', allow me to knit simple daily things together, giving me a better understanding of social patterns and behavior. Staying observant sharpens my awareness of things and deepens my perception beyond what I already know.

Data, when put together nicely, become information.
Information, when added with significance, becomes knowledge.
Knowledge, when blended with thoughts and experience, becomes wisdom.

Be wise and not merely be informed.

Before you go, invest 4 minutes of your time and listen to Robin Sharma's podcast on "Only the Curious Survive".

"All of us are watchers of television, of time clocks,

of traffic on the freeway, but few are observers.

Everyone is looking, not many are seeing."

~ Peter M. Leschak~

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1 comment:

Inspirational Quotes said...

I agree totally, and couldn’t have worded it better myself. Thanks.