Written for Hunmoco by Edward Lane
For this blog you will need a tape measure, floor space and a tolerance for thinly veiled analogies.
My wife and I don’t keep up with current celebrity culture so when the new series of Strictly Come Dancing began a few weeks ago we played our usual game of ‘guess what they are famous for’ and, as usual, failed pretty miserably at it. However, I was surprised that my wife did not recognise Olympic Long Jump Champion-Greg Rutherford.
I told her that he was Olympic and current World Championship long jump champion and watched closely as a wave of indifference washed over her. I got a little niggled at why those credentials didn’t seem to stir any kind of interest or admiration from her. I pressed on……
“That’s a pretty big deal, right?”
“Yeah but it’s just long jump” she said.
“Just long jump?!” I launched into a statistic fuelled outburst about just how fast the long jump athletes run before takeoff and how far they actually travel in the air. I dived into Wikipedia to quote Greg’s fastest 100m time to impress her (10.26s); she shrugged. I quoted his personal best jump of 8.51m; she was still underwhelmed.
I couldn’t understand why she was not as impressed as me with those numbers?
I stood up and fetched the measuring tape from the tool box and, on our living room floor, began to measure out the 8.51m that Greg had jumped………..I ran out of room. I opened the door to the extension and measured out the remaining distance. Give or take a few centimetres it measured from our living room window all the way to our back door that leads into the garden.
“Right!” I exclaimed.
“Imagine someone running across the road, taking off at the living room window and landing in the garden.” I said.
“That’s impossible” she replied.
And there it was, her induction into the Long Jump Appreciation Society was complete and all it took was a little visualisation.
Long Jump isn’t alone in benefiting from a bit of visualisation. Efforts from our employees and colleagues, all seem a bit more impressive once you’ve seen the ground they’ve covered for yourself.
In fact, sometimes you can only truly appreciate what somebody else has achieved by staring back down the same piece of track they just came down. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m straying into “Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes” territory (which, incidentally, is a great idea as that way, when you judge him, you are a mile away and you’ve got his shoes) but too often the things people achieve are just numbers in our heads, we see the achievements written down on paper but we don’t visualise the environment and journey they just went through to get there. The real appreciation we owe them remains dormant.
I’ll admit not every achievement is so easily lost on us, my wife didn’t need any visual prompt to recognise how special Usain Bolt’s Olympic victories were but that is because his gargantuan effort was set against the backdrop of the seven other fastest guys in the world giving it all they have and still being made to look like amateurs. It didn’t require any extra visualisation, seeing the distance between Bolt and 2nd Place was all you needed.
But for those sports you have never played, the jobs you have never done, the situations you have never faced, is your perception of them really a fair reflection of how hard they are to succeed at?
My advice would be; next time you think someone or something is taking too long or making too much fuss, take the time to stand at the edge of the sandpit and see if you could jump that far.