Life is made up of small, seemingly insignificant, events that ends up in a life.
The MBO Seminar
One such event was a seminar I attended way back in 1989. A management-leadership training seminar. Those days it was all about Management by Objectives. Then somebody did another PhD and MBO was replaced by something else. And the process keeps repeating.
I remember two things about that 3 day seminar:
1. One lunchtime we were playing cricket. With the last ball of the session one of the players were bowled middle stump. As we were going in, he was rather white in the face. Somebody asked him: “What are you going to tell Elaine (the presenter) if she asks you why you look like this?” He answered, in a funny sort of voice, “I will say if the ball hit her where it hit me, it would have been a miss.”
2. The second thing I remember, is that we spend a lot of time on the idea of focus.
That seminar had a direct influence on me enrolling for an MBA the next year.
As many of you will know, I love photography – writing with light. Photography is about focus. Crisp, razor sharp focus. And today I am somehow, thinking about focus.
What you focus on, is what you get. That is especially true with macro-photography. You focus on the eye of the bee and the wings are blurred. Which is absolutely fine if you wanted to photograph the eye in the first instance.
Sometimes I am out with another photographer and we would take photos of the same scene. We will compare our photos. It is always amazing how the same scene can differ because of two different focal points. You suddenly have two printable photos of the same scene seen through different lenses.
Here is the thing: even if we tried, we cannot take the same picture!
Life is the same! We see the same event through different lenses. We focus on different aspects of the same event. We see different things in the same event. That could be anything, from farm murders, BLM, Covid-19, Lockdown, a joke, a brand of car, food or service, anything and everything.
The challenge is to at least try and see where the other person focused when he took the photograph.
Focus can hide a lot of things. In photography it is called “depth of field.” It refers to the effect of getting the fore- and background in or out of focus. Sometimes you want to show a scene from here to the horizon – many things must be in focus.
Other times you just want the object of the photo to be in focus. It might be that you see this lovely flower, but the background is a mess, or there is something in the background that will distract the viewer from the photo and you want them to see the photo.
Once you understand the technique, it is good to experiment.
In life there are many examples where people use this same depth of field focus technique, depending of where they come from or where they want you to go. I am not sure why, but it happens.
If it is beneficial, people would like to use a laser, pinpoint focus, cutting out all the noise, background and context. It connects with what I said about statistics in a previous post. It is up to us to enquire about context.
Years ago there was a game on TV, I think. Contestants had to guess where people were (context) based on facial expressions. This particular evening there was a very stern face. Contestants had all sorts of ideas. Nobody got it right. When the photo was fully zoomed out, the man was walking from a church. You see, in everything, context matters.
Context could be deliberately disguised for some reason or the context can be in our own minds. Because I am scared, everything becomes a threat, if you understand what I am trying to say. We must be aware of it. Our own context can ruin many things.
I like the big picture (despite I love taking close-up photos). I want to see the big picture before I study the detail. It is like looking at the picture of a puzzle before putting the piece in the right place. It just does not make sense to ignore the big picture and try to build a puzzle by trying to fit the pieces – like building upside down!
But the big picture can also hide a lot of things. We cannot just look at the big picture, because too often decisions are made on the detail.
That is the nice thing about a camera – you can come closer and farther away. Focus closer or farther away. You can zoom in or out.
Beware of Wrong Focus
One morning on the radio somebody spoke about a fundraiser for some disease. About 250 000 people worldwide suffered from this particular disease. Percentage wise it is nothing. I mentioned this to a hiker friend who works in the medical research field and said I don’t understand this. I would rather spend time and money on research where 250 million people were involved. She changed the focus. It is not just about how many people suffer from the disease. The question is also about pain, discomfort, and other effects of the disease. Now, yes, if 250 000 infants live in pain because of this disease, it makes sense. (It makes sense, anyway, fortunately, for some people. My focus is inconsequential.)
With focus, we show people where we want them to look, we show them what we want them to see. But it is not just the photographer that uses focus – our own minds, our own backgrounds, interests, experiences, training and prejudices are a lens. We see everything through our own lens.
This photo on the left also comes from that MBO seminar. Where you focus is what you see – a young girl or an old woman. And once you see it, you always see it!
In life, and this I realize more and more, you have to focus to succeed. In the modern world more than ever.
What do you think? What is your experience? Please leave your comments below.