"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Have You Seen The Gorilla?

"In a recent experiment conducted by professors from Harvard and the University of Illinois, people were asked to watch a video-tape of two three-person teams of students passing a basketball back and forth, and count how many times the ball was passed among the members of one team. On that tape, while the students are passing the ball, a person in a gorilla costume walks slowly among them, stops, turns to the camera, thumps his chest, and then walks on.
So busy were the subjects with counting passes that fewer than half of them even noticed the "gorilla" at all. When they were shown the same videotape again but without the instruction to count the passes, they all saw the gorilla-and most of them refused to believe it was the same tape they had just watched. When a professor repeated the same experiment , live, before a group of four hundred people, fewer than 10 percent even noticed a dark shape, let alone the gorilla."
Scientists call this phenomenon "inattentional blindness." You can be paying so much attention to one thing that you're blind to a whole lot of other things. That's one way in which your brain can misdirect you when it thinks it's doing things right."
- Get Out of Your Own Way, by Robert K. Cooper

This "inattentional blindness" is the effect of habituation and limited focus. When we focus on a certain thing or things we selectively choose those "things." This choosing cuts off other things. Choosing what to focus on is a powerful capacity that when left to our old habitual tendencies suffocate our ability to see new opportunities or novel forms.
We are many times self-delusional in a sense when we affirmatively believe that what we perceive is absolutely the only reality. We have to consciously realize that what we consider real is only our selective attention to a group of things. To combat our tendency to this "inattentional blindness" we can use several methods to jolt us into re-evaluating our environment for the best possible opportunities. Three ways to do this are:

* Ask different questions throughout your day; i.e., "How can I do this more
* Take different routes to and from your usual places of commute.
* Seek Novelty - consciously seek a new experience through meeting new people,
or reading/learning something new.

By exercising your perception in different ways you open the doors to becoming aware of new opportunities. It is only by seizing opportunities that we breathe life and excitement into our spirit.

Angel Armendariz

1 comment:

Jack Payne said...

Interesting piece. I'm a mono-maniac, myself. Wife could be shouting, demanding a divorce, tv blasting away, bombs going off. When I'm concentrating, I'm in another world, don't hear any of the distractions.

Good introspection fodder here.

"We are all in Sales. Period." - Tom Peters