Keeping Our Eyes (Not Just) On the Prize

August 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Thanks to Sean Stannard-Stockton for introducing me to this video.  He referenced it while writing about the risks of being outcomes-focused in philanthropy.  It’s a great reminder to keep ourselves open to what we aren’t looking for.  It may also provide some insight as to why networks bend our brains, at least those parts that are singularly focused on results of a linear cause-and-effect kind.  The social capital and new forms of self-organized action that are the result of network building activity are not always the first things that appear front and center on our screens.  Rather, they may appear in the background, on the periphery, or in the spaces where more concrete images meet.  And yet, there is little doubt about the potential of net-centric approaches for social impact.  Time to adjust our eyes from the isolated (old paradigm) prize.

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  • this is an awesome post and the video payoff is brilliant. what a great illustration and an advocacy for staying ‘mostly focused’ vs. ‘totally focused’. any time we are narrowly focused – on whatever – we risk losing opportunities in our ‘focus blind-spot’.

    then again, we simply cannot flit from opportunity to opportunity as the butterfly flits from flower to flower. nothing would ever get done.

    i think the healthy balance is one of a semi-permeable focus where one remains committed to the task at hand AND open emergent possibilities.

  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    Love this. It reminded me of a related experience I had recently. I was looking for sugar near the coffee maker in our employee kitchen. I was looking for small packets of sugar, which I expected to see next to the packets of sweet-n-low and splenda. Finding none, I went to the other kitchen and then resigned myself to unsweetened coffee. Next day, I returned and almost got into the same routine. Then, I saw a big yellow tub full of sugar. It was there all the time, but because it didn’t come in the size or shape I was expecting, I literally didn’t see it! If we’re too fixed on the form, we can miss the substance when it shows up in some other form. I did better on this test. Saw 11 of the 13 passes and the bear. Guess I learned a thing from the sugar episode!

  • Curtis says:

    Balance, balance, balance . . . seems to be a theme in our work. Reminded me of this poem last night . . .

    *The Three Goals*

    The first goal is to see the thing itself
    in and for itself, to see it simply and clearly
    for what it is.
    No symbolism, please.

    The second goal is to see each individual thing
    as unified, as one, with all the other
    ten thousand things.
    In this regard, a little wine helps a lot.

    The third goal is to grasp the first and the second goals,
    to see the universal and the particular,
    simultaneously.
    Regarding this one, call me when you get it.

    – David Budbill

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