- Thu, March 08 2012
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Moving furniture, Cambodia-style
Photo by Eve and Nono
Years ago, when I was working as a journalist in Cambodia, a friend visited me in Phnom Penh. At a sidewalk cafe, we drank iced coffee and watched the passersby. A family of six perilously piled onto one motorbike cruised by. My friend stared wide-eyed at the balancing act. A pedicab passed with two pigs lounging in the passenger seat. My friend pondered how that was possible, and I explained pigs were sometimes drugged with marijuana for transport. More amazement. A woman strolled by with a basket of lotus pods perfectly balanced on her head. The show went on, and slowly I realized something. None of the sights had captured my interest, but all of them fascinated my friend. After living in the country for two years, it all looked perfectly normal to me - even though it wasn’t for the rest of the world. I’d acquired native eyes. And that wasn’t a good quality for a journalist to have. If I couldn’t tell what was remarkable, how could I write remarkable things?
Here’s the thing. The curse of the native eye extends beyond the work of a foreign correspondent. It happens to you. And your organization. Every day. If you’re working intimately with your issue, it’s very common to see an incredible sight or witness a striking story - and to not even notice that it’s remarkable. It seems normal, because it’s part of your daily experience. It’s almost as if we’re so incredibly close to our impact we can’t see it in sharp focus.
The problem is, what is normal to you is remarkable to people outside your world. The challenge is to never lose track of what’s interesting—because your native eyes are witness to events that could dazzle and inspire your supporters and constituents. It’s on you to remember that.
And if you can’t see beyond your native eyes, there’s always the friend who can for you. Bring him or her to work with you, and watch what that person things is amazing. You’ll get a true gift: fresh eyes.