A fascinating social experiment

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his came in via the email pipes today, think it’s pretty interesting and something worth thinking about…

Violinist in the Metro— Wash, DC
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand 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 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.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour:
Do we perceive beauty?
Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

I for one have been guilty of not noticing the beauty around me, especially in the last 3 years, so this rings true.

How about you? ;-)

Hat tip to DD

Change has come to the White House

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Check it out if you haven’t already:
_ http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/change_has_come_to_whitehouse-gov/

Really like what they are doing on the site, think it sets the tone and raises the bar of online efforts for pretty much everyone trying to engage… awesome work.

As for today, I certainly feel different about America, so I can’t imagine how Americans are feeling.
The world waits….

A GTD Eureka! moment

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It’s funny how one often finds clarity and purpose when one isn’t actually spending time doing the thing you need clarity for, to achieve your purpose.

This evening I was at a hockey training session, where we did a tactics whiteboard with the coach, (which was awesome – thanks Russ, Trid and Kiwi), and a fast 20 min run in the freezing cold. It was during the run at about 75% of the distance that I had a brief moment of Eureka!, where everything clicked into place for me about something that has been troubling me for a while now… so I’m already trying it out and so far the results are good. This has been one of those pivotal moments for me…

I don’t want to go into the detail of what it is here ‘cos that’s not the point, but what is interesting for me, is that my mind is a) back to being creative and b) working subconsciously. I’ve been teetering on the edge of a solution for ages now, and it’s finally clicked into place ;-)

So the take home for me is that I need to encourage those states of “being away from the desk” so that I can let my mind wander around solutions; and that I should also give my mind concrete things to think about – the first step of which is getting my mental RAM clear.

And that’s all – just wanted to share that, and log it for my own reference in time to come… ;-)

Going to bat for South Africa

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This came in via the email pipes today, seems to state the South African mentality pretty well…. cricket players would understand this best ;-)

What a day of contrasts. The early hours saw one previously unpopular South African; walking down the stairs of the SCG, to a standing ovation and bringing even the hardest SA fan close to tears of pride. That’s us isn’t it? That’s you and me, or at least visions of how we’d like to see ourselves, battered and bruised but defiant in the face of improbability.

I have this constant debate with my wife who fails to see the point of sport. We may not have an Obama to give us a speech that invokes in us strength to keep believing in the impossible, but even my wife sat transfixed this morning as a picture of a man striding down 20 steps said, without uttering a single word, to the rest of the world “try tell me that I can’t.”

Later in the same day headlines are made by another ex-South African who quits his role as England cricket captain after just 5 months at the helm. The odds were too tough to make it happen in South Africa, the greener grass of foreign pastures too alluring to resist. Without realising it KP, you represent so many others like you. You are not alone, there are many like you who figure the odds are stacked too high to make it happen here in South Africa and look for the easier option. But you forget one thing; you forget that dealing with adversity in life breeds strength and character. Having the chips stacked against you, only to believe in something enough to defy the odds to come through these things again, and again, and again… that’s something another coloured passport can not offer you.

Thank you Graeme Smith, you gave us the Obama moment that reminded us why we love being South African this much. We are in for one hell of a tough year this year with no promise of what the end result might be. The rest of the world keeps telling us that we are just another part of the crippled body of Africa with no hope and a one way ticket to failure. Seems like a pretty good time to go and bat then.

Hat tip to Dave Terbrugge, author unknown.