“’Do Something New’ is about having the courage to take a moment and celebrate it. And finding a way … to move beyond simply seeing and looking to deep observation, or deep listening. It’s about going further than I normally would.” – Bonnie Pitman
The power of observation: Transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary
We get stuck and can't see new possibilities. We interact with the same people, face similar situations and respond predictably. If we want to avoid the insanity of doing things the same way and expecting different results we have to change our perspective.
Pausing, being more intentional, and deepening how we see people, places and things can transform the trajectory of our relationship with them.
Bonnie Pitman's chronic illness and unending days in medical facilities was the catalyst for a novel approach to living, which she calls “Do Something New.”
Her experience with physicians and medical staff revealed their often transactional and shallow understanding of her as a human being. She now teaches medical students The Power of Observation and uses art as the medium.
As the former Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, it was natural that she draw from her background in art and passion for education in developing these practices. It’s about “stopping the rush” and “celebrating the beauty of things” to experience joy every day.
I’m revisiting this conversation as we wrap up the year, and I hope you’ll harness the power of Do Something New as well as her Power of Observation Framework for your own recalibration and rejuvenation. Make these frameworks a habit and you will experience more wonder in your life.
The role of awe
[39:47] “Awe may help stop us from ruminating on our problems and daily stressors. Instead, awe seems to pull us out of ourselves and make us feel immersed in our surroundings and the larger world, which may also help explain its tendency to inspire generosity and a sense of connection with others.”
Applying observation and awe to leadership
[31:00] “Look without judgment, so that it's taking the critical eye and the analysis off of it and just let yourself play around with it and be with whatever the issue is, whatever it is that you're contemplating – whether it's a piece of art or a business issue.”
[31:30] “It's another equivalent to a brainstorming session…Let's just take a specific thing that we're focusing on as a problem and go through these steps. You can move the group from this generalizing the problem, down to coming up with new solutions.”
Do Something New
Take a few minutes of an ordinary day and make it extraordinary through:
Visiting new places
Meeting new people
Having new experiences
Planing new experiences with old friends in new ways
New big things & new little things
Even new flavors of ice cream are ok!
Go outside of work or medical experiences
Starting with a new experience each day - don't carry forward from yesterday