On the tip of your tongue

The mind always beats the tongue. It tries to make sense of reality before the linguist in your head interprets.

The closer you look, the cloudier an object gets. Texture, too, is the product of an intelligent designer.

You are guided by what you know. Thankfully, you never know as much as you think.

Look at your fish a little closer.

Look, imagine, and remember

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“In order to think we must speculate with images.” — Aristotle

It’s impossible to remember anything without seeing the image in our head first. With a little effort, we can activate our brains to become conscious recorders.

But the banality of everyday life tends to dull the senses. Blind to routines which automate thinking, we float by the external world without acknowledging its subtleties. Mobile phones further exacerbate attention; some people admit that the addictiveness of the rectangular glow makes walking harder.

We must force ourselves to look for distinctiveness. No one ever forgets a purple cow or rainbow zebra, even if it’s a figment of our imagination.

‘Be a first-class noticer’

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via giphy

We travel to escape the plague of the routine and unexciting. In return, we get a new perspective and acquire new ideas.

But the slightest contrast quenches the thirst for discovery. Our own backyard is full of interesting things.

Life contrarian Aaron Goldfarb writes in How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide:

Interesting people don’t need to fill the voids of their life by simply placing their body in another state, country, continent.

We are blind, even to ourselves.

Grab a camera to help train the eye to look for subtleties. Photography recasts everyday things into novelty. Commit to a way of seeing.

The often unseen and unheard beg for acknowledgment. In the words of Warren Bennis, “Be a first-class noticer.”

The Power of Observation

You can read all the reports you want. At the end of the day, the most insightful information comes from merely observing your surroundings.

If you’re a retailer, this could mean observing which bags your customers are carrying into your stores. Now you’ll know which businesses compliment your brand and which compete against it.

If you’re a social network, pick a place where’s there’s a mass collection of sedentary people and watch how they communicate on their phones. I can tell you right now from riding the train into New York every day that Facebook is still far and way the preferred way to share online, at least for adults.

Sight and vision are only as powerful as their activation. Things also need meaning in order to remember them. First you observe, then you snap and connect.

Everything around you has meaning. There are niche trends today that will be mass trends tomorrow. Data informs decisions but to see it play out live makes you smarter.

Be Here Now

The most beautiful things are the ones you don’t see, the ones that don’t get captured and recorded on camera. These beautiful things are called moments, and eventually, memories.

Memories fade, sure, but they also get recasted and retold through the imagination. In fact, the lack of evidence is exactly what keeps memories alive.

We produce enough data today to necessitate a second brain. The instantness of a Google search means we no longer need to really know anything.

Snap, store, and make it meaningful – you don’t need a computer to remember life’s events. What you need is a presence of mind.

Unseen and Underprepared

The other day I tried to buy a $25 gift card for my brother’s birthday.  The coffee shop had plenty of cards in stock but they couldn’t add value to the card because the machine was broken.  After trying for 10 minutes, they ended up giving me the card for free.

Sometimes you don’t know you have a problem until someone else asks. The request is typically new but it can just as easily be about something old that should already be working.  

Anticipating the use of fundamentals is a key to success.  If you don’t use your basic skills, you’re bound to drop the ball such as what happened at the coffee shop.  

Sometimes the things that break are the most obvious.  Check or practice often enough to ensure everything is still working. Nothing just works by default.  

Match the card with the personality

Card shopping is harder than you think. The selection process depends on the receiver’s current state (physical and mental), temperament, and your relationship with that person.

The objective of a card is to break the mold without sensationalizing the message. Funny cards about someone’s age are touchy. Serious cards about love and health are dull.

You’re better off buying something vague enough to spark a smile and make one optimistic. A simple joke or adage usually sends the right message.

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