Sunday, March 11, 2012

Opportunity Knocks

Can you remember a time when in reflection of a conversation or event you long after the fact you realize that you missed an opportunity?  It might have just been a comment or a smile but you later slap yourself on the leg and know that you missed it. 

That is the funny thing about opportunity.  We want it to say OPPORTUNITY but often it is opportunity. It does not bulldoze it's way in it simply knocks.  If we are not paying attention we can easily miss the sound. 

Advertising on the other hand comes in bold, big, bright, flashing letters.  We grab at it often only to realize later that we are roped into situations that also cause us to knock ourselves in the head wondering how we could have been taken in.

The story below is not a new one but caught my attention and is reprinted from Amnesia blog:

He Played the Violin in the Subway

An intriguing social experiment.
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold, December morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100 each.
Imagine...the opportunity to hear one of the worlds greatest violinists but in the hussle and bustle of daily life it was missed.  What I found intriguing is that the children could recognize what the adults did not.  Here is the event captured by YouTube and it is interesting to watch all the people walking by and ignoring the man as if he was a panhandler. 
Isn't that just like Opportunity.  It does not yell, it simply knocks.  It is up to us to answer the door.  It often shows up in unexpected ways and through unexpected people.  We brush it off and only later realized what we have done. 

"Thinking outside the box" was a big expression of the 90's.  The point was to push us out of our comfort zones and preconceived ideas and challenge us to look at new avenues, directions, and solutions.  In the 80's we called it brainstorming.  Before that we referred to it as a "blessing in disguise".  Apparently it is one of those things that we need to be reminded of again and again in every new situation in which we find ourselves.  We derive much comfort from our stability and control.  It is part of our lives in every area from driving the same route home from work, having a morning, afternoon, and evening routine, and turning our noses up if someone puts something new on our plates.  It is almost instinctive for I remember my one year old son upset if he was given a different blanket.  Routine is a good thing but it can blind us to seeing and hearing that knock at the door of Opportunity when it comes.

For more on the violinist please see the entire story on the Washington Post.

If you are feeling that nothing is changing, nothing good is happening:  Stop, listen...


Anonymous said...

I remember hearing about this. Interesting how we can develope tunnel vision (or is it brain tunnel vision)? Those of us who think we are SO SMART, and yet our ignorance shines through?
We take for granted every day that we live, the gifts that our creator has bestowed upon us, without complaint (we should be glorifying God instead) for these gifts? First of all every morning i wake, i am thankful that i was counted worthy to be brought into yet one more day, to love and be loved and enjoy beautiful things..not strive after the wind...for all things will come to naught eventually....we all go back to God as i have been told? Stop and smell the roses!

Carol Schultz said...

Thank you for your thoughts. Gratitude and appreciation is a wonderful way to start each morning. It changes the entire perspective.