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Welcome to the intellectual blog series titled Savant. Throughout this series, I will be covering topics related to drafting tips, Adobe and Microsoft Office shortcuts and features, as well as some life hacks I use day-to-day. These nuggets or “pearls of wisdom” are offered up in an effort to make life easier for those in the architectural and engineering world. I hope you find them as helpful as I have.
Before we get started, I would like to share my background. My name is Daniel Fabriziana, and I am a 30 year old structural designer working at a small AE firm in a suburb about 20 minutes away from downtown Cleveland, Ohio. I grew up in your standard single story ranch with my mom, dad, and two older sisters, all of whom I love very much. After high school, I went away to a small college to pursue a Computer Engineering education and to follow my dream of becoming a professional football player, despite my 5 foot, 11 inch frame and 5.5 second forty yard dash. After one very fun year of living the dream, I decided to “take my talents” back to Cleveland and go to Cleveland State University, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering. I have been out of school four years now and call it a pleasure to be working at an AE Firm so close to my hometown.
For the first post in the Savant series, I wanted to talk about one of the most important pearls of wisdom I’ve found: “It’s not always about the details.” This revolves around the “Invisible Gorilla Experiment” performed by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons in 1999.
It’s Not Always about the Details
In this experiment, Chabris and Simons instructed subjects to watch a one minute video of a three on three basketball game in which three players wore white shirts and the other three wore black shirts. While the subjects watched, they were instructed to keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the team wearing white shirts. In the middle of the game, a person wearing a gorilla costume walks into play. The gorilla stops, faces the camera, thumps its chest, and walks off. After the video, Chabris and Simons asked the subjects whether they noticed the gorilla. The results were astonishing: only half of the viewers saw the gorilla. Incredibly, when the experiment was performed by behavioral scientists at Harvard a couple years later, the results were exactly the same: only half of the viewers saw the gorilla. It was as though the gorilla was invisible.
I believe the experiment revealed two things about human nature. First, that we are missing a lot of what goes on around us, and second that we have no idea that we are missing so much.
I’ve shared the details of this experiment with you as a reminder to not simply keep your head in the game but to be mindful of what is going on around you. You shouldn’t let your mind travel elsewhere, and you should be vigilant enough not to miss something that’s right in front of you.
When focused on your day to day activities it can be easy to obsess over a single detail and miss the whole picture. It is easy to get caught up in those everyday tasks and become habitual at work. In doing so we sometimes have a tendency to forget why we entered our field in the first place. Personally, I have found there were times when I would come to work, design a structure, produce construction documents for the design, and do all I could to get the job done and to deliver it to the client. During this time, I worked 50 to 60 hours a week, and I found that work wasn’t all that fun. This was because I looked at just one small detail of my career and ignored the greater purpose of my life. I forgot to look at the big picture: what I was doing, and why I was doing it.
To be a design engineer is exciting and gratifying. To know that my work—on a day to day basis—helps people achieve their goal to build a dream project and make their lives easier by designing a structure, simply makes the world a better place. The solving of difficult problems like this is why I got into engineering in the first place. Along the way I had forgotten that.
When you are working 50 to 60 hour weeks, remember why you are doing so. It can be tiring and difficult during these weeks, but if you remember why you’re working, you can pass the time with a smile on your face and not a care in the world.
I know this chapter wasn’t a technical one, but I thought my first pearl of wisdom should be more philosophical than technical. I would like to thank you for being a part of this, and I hope you enjoyed the post. Join me in 2 weeks when I start to get into the meat and potatoes of this series—the technical pearls—when I unveil my 3 AutoCAD Tips that Every Designer and Drafter Needs to Know.
Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com if you have any questions or comments or would like to pose a topic for a future post.
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