A while back I had a speaking engagement in the Ukraine. As you know, the Ukraine is part of what was the former Soviet Union. It is now an independent state and the people there are marvelous! While I was there, the thought crossed my mind that it must be exciting for them to learn about business principles and freedom when it has not been part of their past life. It truly was an incredible opportunity for my wife and me and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
In the beginning of the trip, we actually flew into Kiev and then had a six hour drive to Odessa, which is on the coast of the Black Sea. After the function was over on Sunday, we had the opportunity to enjoy a great meal right on the edge of the sea and it was a beautiful. Afterwards we all went to what I call, a Ukrainian aerobics dance club! There were people of all ages dancing and having a great time. It really impressed me to see how the young people accepted the older adults. I saw some twenty-year-olds dancing with sixty-year-olds and of course, I jumped right into the middle of it myself. After a couple of hours of that, I was totally exhausted and soaking wet!
At about 2 o’clock in the morning it was time to leave. We had an early morning flight out of Kiev, so we had about a six-hour cab ride ahead of us. (I know you are thinking that a six-hour cab ride must have been very expensive, but the cost was actually very reasonable.) There was only one little problem – the cab driver did not know how to get back to the airport once we were in Kiev! We did not realize this until he kept stopping at what seemed like every corner, asking people for directions. We would follow those directions another few miles before stopping again for further instructions.
Fortunately, I had kept my eyes open when we originally arrived in Kiev so I was able to recognize some of the landmarks and actually ended up helping the cab driver get us to the airport. When we got out of the car, he hugged us because he was so excited we had finally made it! If I had known when we hired him that he did not know how to get to the airport, I probably would have been a little bit more nervous. But, in the end everything turned out okay.
The point of that whole story is to remind all of us that we should keep our eyes open as we go through life. There are things that happen all around us on a daily basis and many times, we are not observant about what is taking place. Not paying attention could come back to bite us!
Let me ask you a question: Do you think you have a good memory? Here is a quick test. Without looking to see, what color shoes do you have on today? What color are your pants? (Remember, you can’t look!) What color shirt are you wearing? And, what color is the band of your watch? Okay, now you can look to see if you answered all of those questions correctly. Just one more thing: Without reading back to the first part of this paragraph, what was the first question that I asked you? If you answered, “What color are your shoes?” that is not correct. The first question I asked was, “Do you think you have a good memory?” If you don’t believe me, you can look back to see that it really was the first question.
I’m not trying to trick you; I am just trying to make the point of this Tip come alive. To be observant means that sometimes we need to pay closer attention to things than we first realized.
Years ago there was a football player at the University of Tennessee by the name of Frank Emmanual. He was an incredible line-backer and went on to play for the Miami Dolphins. But, when Frank was in college, he loved to study films of the opposing team. As he studied one film of the University of Kentucky team, he noticed that there was a player who would line up with his left leg back if the play was going to the left or his right leg back if the play was going to the right. Frank didn’t mention this to anyone; he just kept that information to himself. However, when Tennessee played Kentucky that year, he made twenty-eight individual tackles during the game! He remarked later that the difference between being good and being great was just a matter of being observant and paying attention to little details around you every day.
I know that this is a simple suggestion, but that is exactly what it is meant to be. I have often thought that if all of us would simply pay a little bit more attention to what takes place around us on a daily basis it would pay huge dividends, both in business and in relationships.
I trust that you will begin to keep your eyes open and pay closer attention to what goes on around you. Who knows? That information, which may not seem to be that important right now, may become vital in the days ahead – especially if you are out of the country and have to get back to the airport!
Tip: Keep your eyes open – you may have to find the airport!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm