Focus, A New Perspective, and What You May Be Missing

Last week I had the chance to do a Scavenger Hunt at the Philadelphia Art Museum. Normally I dread these sorts of activities, but this one was very creative and offered me a few great lessons.

The activity was set up as a two hour scavenger hunt through the museum where you had a set of 30 questions and the answers could be found in certain rooms. In order to find the Philadelphia Art Museum Scavenger Huntanswer to the extremely creative and witty questions, you had to look within the environment, the works of art, the explanations on the wall, among other places. You had to be creative and clever. The whole event was timed, so you not only had to answer the questions, but you had to get through them all and back to the end point by a certain time. And, like any good hunt or event, there was competition amongst the teams and a prize at the end.

I made a number of interesting observations over the course of this activity. First is that focus is both a necessary element for success, but can have its downside. In order to race through 30 questions and a gigantic museum in less than 2 hours, you need to be focused. Your team has to work together to handle the tasks at hand – navigation, recording your team’s answers, and searching for clues. As a group we charged from place to place focused on the current question and then immediately onto the next one. After all, time was of the essence. What was good about this focus is that we finished the hunt early and did particularly well (tied for most questions correct in fact). We accomplished our objective efficiently and effectively.

What I didn’t like about this hyper-focused state is what I missed. Because we couldn’t stop and smell the artwork, so to speak, there were a ton of things I missed and wished I could’ve seen along the way. Passing by great works by Monet, Andy Warhol, Pissarro, and a myriad of others was a little hard to take as our team scurried past. I felt a constant pull of “What is over there?” and “Can’t I just pause and enjoy this?” I felt like I was missing out on something great.

What the questions did do for me, however, was give me a new perspective. I definitely had to look at the art, the context, the text, and other things in the environment a whole new way in order to find the clues. It stretched my mind and my intuition. I looked at pieces of art I never would have looked at otherwise because they weren’t “my type”. I even surprised myself a few times with the connections I made and how quickly I did so.

These 3 insights about focus, what I felt like I was missing, and this new perspective got me thinking about how this plays out in my day to day life. For instance:

  • — Where in my life am I not focused enough to get the results I desire?
  • — Where in my life am I too focused and am missing out on living in the here and now?
  • — Am I too focused on what I am missing to really enjoy what I do have/am doing?
  • — In what area(s) of my life do I need a new perspective?

Games and adventures like these can be great activities to learn more about yourself and those on your team (people you work with, friends, family, whoever). Ever had an experience like this where you got a whole new perspective? Any of these questions strike a chord with you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments…

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