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Chaplain's thoughts on 'perception'

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Col.) Bruce Glover
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Chapel
When I was wing chaplain at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, I went with the security forces commander one evening to visit a seriously injured Airman in the intensive care unit at a large hospital in the city of Suwon.

Neither one of us were familiar with the hospital, so we wandered around using the Braille method to discover the ICU. After considerable wandering, we finally gave in -- betraying my right as a man to wander incessantly -- and tried to find somebody to give us directions in English. The nearest ward we found was the ophthalmology clinic, so we walked in and asked a young Korean medical professional, "ICU?" In perfect English he responded, "You see me? I see you, too!"

Perception, or the art of seeing things that others may not see, is the foundation of innovation. Looking at the same old thing and seeing something new isn't easy, as the diagram of parallel lines and multi-colored wheels in the photo clearly demonstrate. We know the lines are parallel, but they sure don't look that way. Likewise, we know the wheels don't really move, but they seem to.

In this time of diminishing resources, when innovation is crucial for us to succeed in the military, mastering our skills of perception is vital. In short, innovation is born out of our perceptions, our ability to see possibilities instead of obstacles. Innovation happens when we can see beyond the usual ways of doing business, notice something new and develop a better way. I urge us to open our eyes, develop our ability to perceive new possibilities and seek to find new and better ways to do our mission. Orville and Wilbur Wright did it, so did Steve Jobs (founder of Apple, Inc.), Bill Gates (co-founder of Microsoft, Inc.), and Phil Knight (founder of Nike, Inc.). So can we; our future depends on it.