experts

The Limits of Vision

A couple of weeks ago I bought a pair of eyeglasses. They’re called SuperFocus. They’re the geekiest glasses I’ve ever seen. And the best I’ve ever seen through.

Like a lot of people my age, I need different strengths of glasses — for regular reading, computer reading, and road-sign reading. In my case I have yet another focal distance — for refering to my notes while speaking on stage.

My new SuperFocuses (SuperFoci?) handle all these situations, without the distortions of bi- or tri-focals, because I can actually focus them — something like binoculars — from infinity to watch-repair close, with a small slider on top of the bridge.

Sounds weird, but you get used to it pretty quickly. And it works. Your whole field of vision can be in perfect focus, whatever the distance.

I’m so pleased with my new specs that I went to order another pair.

Craig, my optician, started waxing about how great these new glasses were, how many famous (and smart) people owned a pair, and how he (being in good company) used them himself. He likes to talk, so he quickly moved on to his assessment of his suppliers. The SuperFocus people aren’t traditional eyewear manufacturers. They’re entrepreneurs — the new kids on the block. So when Craig offers suggestions for improvement, they usually respond with, That’s an interesting idea. We’ll try it.

On the other hand, when he offers suggestions to the more established manufacturers, they often reply with, That wouldn’t work or That would be too expensive or People don’t want that.

So it turns out that eyeglasses makers are pretty much just like the rest of us. Too often, they limit their vision to what they already know.

The great Danish physicist, philosopher, and poet, Piet Hein, put it like this:

Experts have
their expert fun
ex cathedra
telling one
just how nothing
can be done.

Of course, none of us are immune. We’re all experts (or think we are) on something. How often have you been the expert who turns knowing into “no-ing”?

Posted by Tim Hurson, 2 comments
The Safe Path

The Safe Path

The safe path is the one you already know.
It leads to where you’ve already been.

101One of the things I notice as I work with organizations around the world is that the more expert people are – the better their reputations as knowledgeable doctors or lawyers or engineers or managers – the less likely they are to ask questions they don’t know the answers to. That’s not because they know so much that it’s hard to find such questions. It’s because asking questions you don’t know the answers to reveals your ignorance, and that can be pretty threatening, particularly if you think of yourself as an authority.

Ironically, it’s the very urge to feel knowledgeable that often stops us from knowing more.

Asking questions you already know the answers to is the safest path, to be sure, but it also leads you right back to where you already are.

One of the best ways to discover new territory, new ideas, new possibilities is to ask questions you don’t know the answers to. It’s like launching your own personal Hubble telescope, sharpening your ability to see more, and more clearly, than ever before.

“No, no, you’re not thinking, you’re just being logical.” – NEILS BOHR, Danish physicist (1885-1962)

Posted by Tim Hurson, 0 comments