Look Around, Look Around

After telling a story to my undergraduate arts entrepreneurship seminar yesterday, one student said, “that would make a good blog post.” So….here it is.

First, the set-up: One of several objectives for this course is to help students increase their capacity to recognize opportunities, especially opportunities for creative action. In week three of the semester, I noticed that the students in the class always took the same seats around the conference table. I invited them (OK…required them) to move to different seats so that they could get a new perspective on the room, perhaps inspiring new creative thoughts. On more than one occasion since, a student has remarked upon entering the room, “I don’t know where to sit…” “Sit wherever you like,” I reply.

What do we miss when we always sit in the same seat?

The story: I went for a long afternoon walk this past weekend. The weather was extraordinarily nice, even by February-in-Phoenix standards. I was bopping along the sidewalk, the soundtrack from Hamilton playing through my earbuds as I passed the local middle school athletic fields. 50 yards or so in front me, a father and daughter are looking up and excitedly pointing at something behind and above me. I turned my head to the right and didn’t see anything. I was getting closer to them and their excitement seemed to be growing, so I turned fully around, and there, about 100 feet in the air and somewhat behind me, a hang-glider was floating down to the ground for a landing in the field. hanggliderI live near an (urban) mountain preserve and there are frequently hang-gliders on beautiful Sunday afternoons, but they usually land in the designated landing area. The pilot had overshot by about a ¼ mile – but found an opportunity to land and took it. I never would have known had I not turned around when a neighbor pointed at the sky behind me. We don’t always have someone pointing the way to an opportunity, but when we do, take a minute to turn around and find it!

As Eliza Schuyler sings it: “Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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