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Gaining Perspective From Wonder

Gaining perspective from wonder

My son, Sagan, just turned 19 months old. As you might imagine for a boy named after astronomer Carl Sagan, he is surrounded by “space” paraphernalia: rocket ships on his onesies, planets hanging over his bed, etc. His second word was “Star!” (after “Doggie!”). And recently, we took him to his first planetarium show.

This sky show was designed for kids. It explored our sun: its parts, temperatures, etc. We follow the guidelines on not letting him look at a lot of TV or computer screens. So imagine his surprise when the whole ceiling changed to a dramatic stellar scene. I’m reminded me of the famous story (apparently an urban legend) that people watching one of the first movies ran out of the theater when they saw a train coming right at them on screen. After a bit of adjustment, it wasn’t long until Sagan’s little hand was pointing up and he was saying, “Star!” and sounding so full of wonder.

When we become used to things, we often lose our sense of wonder. Once you’ve been to a movie and seen a train coming at you, it’s old hat the next time it happens.

But we must remember that many of the people experiencing our offerings are doing so for the first time. Today is going to be someone’s first time seeing a play. Or attending a museum. Or going to the zoo. Or flying. Or volunteering.

Or seeing stars at a planetarium.

We need to open ourselves to the perspective gained by empathizing with these first-time experiencers. And we can make it an even more powerful experience for them.

This week’s mission:

Put some thought into how people experience your offerings for the first time. What do you have in place to help them? There are many things you might do: prepare them in advance, provide a tool to help them remember the experience in some way, ask them to share their feelings, etc. List the things you do now, and strengthen your list this week. Either improve something existing, or add something new that benefits first-timers. What would have made an impression on you your first time?

Warmly,

Ron

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