How to be a detail oriented person

inspiration Feb 14, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day 2020! Walking around Santa Barbara is like being in a floral shop. Birds of Paradise grow abundantly in the weeds. I know just enough about photography to be certain of two things: I love it and I have an enormous amount to learn.

When I took the shots below, I wasn’t thinking of posting them on Instagram or anywhere else today. In fact, I was on a totally different mission. I was doing an exercise to strengthen my coaching skills. The goal was to walk around and consciously look for detail in my environment I wouldn’t normally notice and I chose  to do that in the park. There are lush flower gardens everywhere you turn in this town and in fewer than six months, I’ve already become desensitized to the stunning beauty. I wanted to slow down and really see the detail around me.

Here’s why:

To serve at a high level, a coach must be able to see detail others do not. In coaching, when that happens it’s called “seeing into your blind spot”. Coaching is critical for anyone who wants to advance in life because by definition, it’s impossible to see your own blind spots. It takes someone or something outside your own mind to trigger your awareness. That means, if you don’t have a coach, there are things holding you back from your full potential you don’t even know exist.

In addition to photography, I’ve also had a love of aviation since childhood. My dad would take me to a parking lot at the end of the runways at St. Louis Lambert International airport. In those days, TWA was still thriving and Southwest was only serving 2 cities in Texas.

We’d lay on the hood of his truck and look up at the planes as they would take off and land right over us. It seemed like you could reach out and touch them. I’d always make up stories about where the passengers were going and what they’d do when they arrived.

I remember walking with friends some twenty years later and as a plane flew over our heads, I wondered aloud where they were going, just like I did when I was a child. One friend said, "You’re so weird Jasen, who cares?" Was I weird? I mean, probably! 🀠 

Then, one day I heard a speaker say that asking obscure questions was a sign of a highly creative person. That felt better than being called a weirdo! Now I understand that consciously looking for detail you normally don’t see is extremely beneficial. It helps stimulate creativity, strengthen critical thinking skills and it literally forces your brain to build new neuro-pathways to accommodate. It’s almost impossible to spot new details without becoming curious about what you’re seeing. In much the same way I was curious about those airline passengers.

It’s also good professional development. The more obscure detail I notice in one place, the better I’ll be at noticing it everywhere else; like when I’m working with clients. In fact, the same principle applies to everyone. The more you train your brain to look for new things, the more effective you’ll be for your client. Reality has a surprising amount of detail and we all need help seeing what we can’t see. Exercises like I'm describing here don't replace coaching but they can go a long way to accent it.

If I’m going to stare at glass, I’d much rather be looking through a lens than at a glowing rectangle, i.e. a smartphone. Photography gives us the perfect opportunity to deliberately put ourselves into a growth based mindset. Often I put my iPhone into airplane mode and just use the camera. That's just one way to do an exercise like this.

So, what about you? How would you go about looking for details you would normally overlook? My challenge to you this weekend is to find a way to see your world from a new perspective. Then, I’d love to hear what you discover! If the devil is in the details, I say let's go get the little devils! πŸ˜ˆπŸ˜ˆπŸ˜‚

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