Hiding in plain sight.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re clueless and at the mercy of technology, please read on. I guarantee you’ll feel better.

I’m excited to be speaking at a national conference in October, for which the conference director asked me to provide a one-minute promotional video.  Since I’ve started to claim status as the alpha (the dominant party) in my relationship with technology, I blithely agreed.

Now comes the humiliating part.

I know damn good and well I have a built-in webcam; I’ve used it for Skype calls, haven’t I? But if I have it, how come I don’t know how to turn it on outside the context of Skype? There’s no handy button to push, and I don’t notice anything useful happening when I click on my Camera Assistant Software icon. Googling for directions doesn’t help; I’m only led deeper into the morass of technical stuff to check out.

After about an hour of this idiocy, I decide to switch to some other task before my head explodes.  As I casually swing my cursor to one side of my screen, I consciously notice something that’s been flitting in and out of my line of sight for months now: a toolbar with a tiny little camera icon on it.

What??

Yes, it’s true.  I now remember that months ago I personally decided to attach this now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t toolbar to the left side of my laptop screen.  When I cursor over the point of attachment, the toolbar briefly shows itself, then shyly disappears until I call it forth again.  I’ve fallen prey to the phenomenon known as Hiding In Plain Sight.

It took several moments for my eyes—which I’d rolled in self-exasperation—to come back down to their normal position.  This gave me time to contemplate how often we sabotage ourselves by being so busy busy busy that we don’t pause to think or observe or take advantage of tools and resources that are readily available to us.

Why did I spend time searching for information and a tool that was already within easy reach? I suspect there were numerous contributing factors.  When I initially positioned the camera toolbar, I didn’t take time to really play with it, and I hadn’t thought through how I would use it. Also, I was eager to finish that task and move on to another, so I wasn’t really thinking about how and why it made sense for me to make the toolbar accessible. When I clicked on my Camera Assistant Software icon, I had such a narrow visual focus and was in such a hurry that I failed to notice that the click did, indeed, cause the toolbar to appear on my screen (for a few shining nanoseconds).

This naturally led me to wonder: What opportunities am I missing because I’m simply moving too quickly and looking too narrowly? Am I so tied into expecting an opportunity to look a certain way that I can’t even recognize it when it shows up in another form? What sort of resources and possibilities are hiding from me in plain sight?  I’m afraid I didn’t like the answers.

What about you? Have you had an experience recently where you wasted time and energy looking for something that was right there,  but which you’d gotten so used to seeing you didn’t really see it anymore?  How did you open your eyes to it? And what rewards did you get when you did look? Please share your challenges and ultimate triumphs. Don’t let me be the only one on here who’s confessed to complete cluelessness, okay?

P.S. – Thanks to tanali778 for her image of the hiding-in-plain-sight dragonfly; I found it on Flickr.
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