Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Art of Eye Contact!!

I was in an airport this week - just got through security and, like everyone else, was in the process of getting my stuff together. You know the drill - shoes, belt, liquids, laptop, phone and anything else that might set off the TSA alarms. Some were able to do this quickly and easily, others not - and everyone, including the TSA staff, doing their best not to make any eye contact.

Off to the side, in obvious distress, was a woman holding her sneakers (the kind with laces) and trying to get them back on her feet. Everyone was in a hurry to get around her and continue to their gates. I was watching rather than hurrying - and then it hit me: quit looking and go help. I smiled, made the obvious gestures that suggested I was offering assistance, and got down on my knees in front of her. In my peripheral vision I noticed her and everyone else looking at me like I was some beyond-belief apparition - after all, the public address announcer said to be on the lookout for unattended bags, not people.

She said her "back had gone out" (sound familiar) and gave me a look of surprise and relief; it took no more than a minute to get the sneakers onto her feet and laced up, and then we both went our separate ways (she more gingerly than me). Fast forward past the chaos of the boarding lines; I was in my seat (again trying not to make eye contact with anyone who might want the middle seat next to me) when something else hit me: this eye contact avoidance thing was crazy. I mean, aren't we supposed to be on the lookout for those who might be in need of something, or a smile, or some other gesture of kindness? Maybe the moral of this story is that we should be looking to help more than we are watching for trouble - try to remember that this week as you rush to whatever gates await you. After all, you never know when your back might "go out".

Today's message is based on a quote about innovation by Arthur Porter:

“The innovation point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams.” W. Arthur Porter

Dr. Porter is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Oklahoma. Prior to his retirement, he served as University Professor and Regents Chair of Engineering at that university.

Do you have ideas and dreams? Of course you do; we all do. Every day we think of things as we drive around, go to work, begin to play, talk to others, sit quietly somewhere or spend a thoughtful moment alone. We dream at night and during the day about all kinds of things, some are cool ideas about how to do something new or different or better. It’s natural to have ideas and to dream – it’s harder to do something with or about them. Getting those thoughts on paper, working out the ideas so that they make sense, talking to and working with others to perfect them, developing the concepts into something concrete and real, getting them beyond the thought stage and to market – that’s the challenge. Getting them to that pivotal moment when those dreams become reality – that’s the goal.

Are you talented and motivated enough to move your idea or dream from thought to finish? If you are, or want to be, then make that your goal and begin a journey to your own personal innovation point today!

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