Building Bridges

Making New Discoveries Next Door

Recently, I was privileged to enjoy a stroll with Free Tours by Foot ( I really love walking tours, and decided to visit Harvard Square, a place I had been many times before.

I soon gained a new perspective of this historic area favored by out-of-towners. I got a good view of the Widener Library, a large brick building in the Beaux-Arts style complete with two imposing columns and a large staircase ( Walking by Lowell House, I heard the replica of the famous Danilov bells ringing. I marveled at the intricate stained glass windows in Sanders Theater, the site of speeches by Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr. ( And I chuckled when I spotted the Dewey, Cheetem and Howe sign, the nameplate representing the fictional law firm at the corner of Brattle and JFK streets. All of these landmarks appeared new to me, though I had walked by them countless times before.

This experience made me realize how often we pass things by without seeing them at all. It also caused me to reflect on my work life, and what one can discover by looking at situations with new eyes. While we may not expand our work horizons with a walking tour, we can stretch our minds by brainstorming with colleagues, or by participating in a professional development session or networking event. We can simply open our minds and become willing to see and do something new and different, rather than stick with the tried and true because “we’ve always done it this way.”

This willingness and effort to gain a new perspective helps us in our professional lives. As instructional designers or trainers, we could gain a new way of presenting material to learners, such as a student self-assessment, an educational game, or unique role play. We could discover a new way to make a meeting engaging. As emotional intelligence continues to contribute to success in the workplace, finding a new way to approach a challenging topic with a colleague opens the line of communication, enabling us to collaborate. Most importantly, being open to innovation gives us the freedom to find a solution to an issue, whether the challenge be in employee performance, cost overruns, or employee turnover.

Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Let your new eyes lead you to all your best ideas in 2014. And when you have a chance, check out Free Tours by Foot. I hope the tour inspires you, also!