Raising your awareness

It was the second half of 1997. I had just relocated to the Bay area (California) from Singapore. One of my first projects as a project manager for a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) company was to implement a new support application for the Lincoln Telephone company (at that time)

That was my first trip to Lincoln. Believe it or not, I had never seen snow until that time in my life so I was kind of excited about that (apart from the project, of course)

When I rented a car, I saw that there was a medium-sized plastic stick on my car seat. I couldn’t make out what it was and thought that these folks have not cleaned the car properly. I promptly deposited that stick in the trash bin and drove away with my rental car to Residence Inn where I would be staying for the next 8 weeks or so. The day went by quickly in the usual shopping activities. Next day morning, I got ready quickly as I wanted to be on time for work. When I came down, there was a surprise waiting for me. The whole night it had snowed like crazy. It was fun to watch the snow. However, there as a problem too.  All the cars in the parking lot were covered completely with snow. While I remembered the general area where I parked, I had no clue where EXACTLY I had parked my car. That, by the way, was my first experience with snow.

I thought for a while. Time was ticking away and I didn’t want to go late on the very first day. I had to do something. Luckily I had gloves and I started removing snow on the number plates to find my car. In a few minutes I did find my car but now the whole car was covered with snow. I started to clear the snow in my own (crude) way. A gentleman who was walking by stopped and asked “Don’t you have a scraper?” and I asked back “What is that?” He smiled and said “Wait, let me get you one” and walked to his car. In less than a minute, he came back with a scraper and my jaw dropped. This was exactly the same kind of “plastic stick” that I threw away in the trash can at the car rental counter.

Of course, now I know all about the snow in Nebraska and the snow scraper. If you think about it, the world is never the same again for me. However silly it might sound, the new world for me now has a snow scraper in it. And, I can’t NOT know what a snow scraper is.

Now, with that in the background, here is my point:

Many things in life are just like that. Once you become aware of them, you can’t NOT be aware of them EVER again. Some of them, you can become aware of, through experience and for some of them, you need teachers and mentors that will make it easy for you. As you can see, awareness is a funny thing. Until that incident, a snow scraper was nothing for me. After that, there is no question in my mind about what a snow scraper is. In fact, before that incident, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I came to know that through experience. If you have the time to learn everything by your own experience, you would be paying a very big price for that education. Teachers and mentors help a BIG way by lowering the cost of acquisition of awareness of what is relevant today.

So, please go and find a mentor that will take you to the next level.