"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, October 25, 2010

Help Seeing the Obvious

This sign is on the side of the road in front of an old house. I love it because it reminds me how often we fail to see the obvious things in our daily lives. We become distracted by goals, frustrating encounters with others or even a lack of sleep. We miss the obvious.

Fictitious Example: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went camping together. They pitched their tent under the stars, cooked a meal over the campfire, visited and finally went to sleep. In the middle of the night Holmes awakened and exclaimed, "Watson, look up and tell me what you deduce." Watson opened his eyes, and said "I see billions and billions of stars. It's likely some of these stars have planetary systems. Furthermore, I deduce there is probably oxygen on some of these planets, and it's possible life has developed on a few of them. Is that what you see?" Holmes replied: "No, you idiot. Somebody stole our tent!"

This humorous story is an example of how we can often miss the obvious. Like Dr. Watson, we bring our own agendas, biases and background to every situation.

Lately, I've been editing for a few friends and noticed that in their work as well as my own, we become so busy developing our concept, solving problems or searching for the perfect wording that it's easy to forget the "obvious" elements of those problems and concepts.

When I find myself doing this, I like to step away from the project or situation. Sometimes, getting away is all it takes to regain perspective, but sometimes it continues to feel as if I'm just blathering along like Dr. Watson. My question for you is: "What do you do when you find yourself missing the obvious?"

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