Under The Radar

Not long after Money & You, I took a short workshop in Mastery, and the one big take-away for me was when the instructor told us how he studies stand-up comedy. It wasn’t about the jokes or getting big laughs, so much as it was about stage presence, eye contact, working the room, and, most importantly, making fun of the content that was derived by paying attention to the details of life that seemed to touch us all. Their jokes, guised as amusing anecdotes, were funny because they were often so true and usually so obvious, that after you were done laughing, and or crying, you might find yourself saying, “He/She is so right. Why didn’t I think of that?” Truth is, “They’re just things I’m noticing. I notice patterns. I’m copying them down all the time. To get things out for a specific assignment, I’m forced to read them over and over. And they’ve changed a little. Another molecule is added. Suddenly, you’ll see the connection between two totally unrelated things and something bigger happens. I’m just a skimmer. A noticer. And I make the notes.” These are the words, and a valuable lesson, from the comedic genius and acute observer of life, the late great George Carlin. It’s really no joke that, as he went on to say, “The joy that comes from finding something, and to say ‘What a great thing! No one else seems to have noticed that!’ And then, to say it in your own way.” At the time, of course, he was speaking of his observation skills and applying them to his method of writing for comedy, but it’s really no different in, quote-unquote, tracking trends, or as I prefer to call it, being an expert at (or is it in?) foresight. Being a futurist IS being a noticer. Take the notes – and the pictures – and remember, with full credit to advertising legend Allen Kay, “If you see something, say something.”
Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O’Reilly was a fictional character in the novel, film, and television series M*A*S*H. Radar, played by actor Gary Burghoff in the film and on the TV show, acquired his nickname because he was seemingly endowed with ESP and super-human hearing, as he was able to hear incoming helicopters before anyone else could, and would regularly appear at his CO's side before being called, anticipating his needs, and even finishing his sentences. During the time of the Korean war, police began using a Doppler effect radar system to catch speeding drivers, and by 1958 the idea for the radar detector was born. Radar uses radio waves to “see” distant objects by bouncing the waves off an object and seeing how long it takes for the wave to return. It’s all just a matter of signal detection, and different bands mean different things to be paying attention to, based on stronger or weaker signals. The strength of the signal, the length of its reach, will ultimately have a variety of value or costs associated with it, and it’s at the point where and when you ‘pick it up’ that your selective attention kicks in. When you’re struck by a new word, idea, or that one thing that just seems to stick out and hits you, for whatever reason, and then, after that, you find yourself unconsciously keeping an eye out for it, and as a result, notice it seemingly everywhere. It’s NOT a coincidence. There is no such thing. If nothing else, remember that.


  • Stephanie Eyles

    Sigh, ah I like I sleep a little deeper and breathe a little lighter in the morning. This post makes so much sense! I feel a part of me fits into the world a little easier with people like you sharing your thoughts Mikel. #writeon!

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