The story is told of an engineer who designed and built the most beautiful prototype model for a well-known German car manufacturer.

It was a thing of beauty! Sleek lines, dangerous curves, and a mean grille that would make a truck jealous.

The CEO was over the moon. He couldn’t wait to get it out of the fabrication lab and onto their test track. That was when they noticed the problem.

The car was exactly one inch taller than the entrance.

What a quandary. Everyone was distraught. They walked around the car, trying to figure out how to get it through the tiny entrance. The engineer suggested they dismantled the doorframs and chiselled out a little bit of the concrete to create a couple of inches headroom.

No doubt, it would affect the concrete work, but  they could worry about that later. The car sprayer thought they ought to simply push the car by force through the entrance. No doubt it would damage the paintwork, but they could worry about that later. The CEO liked neither of these plans, so they remained stuck.

Now, the security guard had been watching the big brains at work for quite a while. He wanted to say something, but he wasn’t entirely sure whether his interruption would be welcome. He kept trying to catch the attention of the arguing professionals, but his own nerves kept getting the better of him.

Then the CEO noticed him fidgeting in the corner and asked, “What’s the matter, Walter?”

After calming his frayed nerves, Walter the Watchman stepped forward and said, “well sir, may I make a suggestion? Why don’t you just let the air out of the tyres? That ought to make the car a few inches shorter…”

Now, tell me honestly: would you have thought of that yourself? I know I wouldn’t have. But let me also ask: how many CEOs and engineers would have asked the security guard for help with problems they can’t solve themselves? That, for me, is the real lesson behind this story.

Wisdom sometimes comes from the most unexpected places, and the people who enjoy the benefit of these unexpected nuggets of wisdom are those who are open to learn from every single person they meet. As humans, we just can’t help ourselves. We stereotype all the time. It’s our brain’s way of simplifying a complicated world. Instead of taking the time to peel away at layers to see what lies beneath the exterior, we simply make judgements based on what is right in front of us.

A young man sporting a sharp haircut with lines in his hair is an armed robber. A lady with an ankle bracelet is a prostitute. A person with tattoos is on drugs. A man with dreadlocks smokes weed. We make these snap judgements about people and don’t even allow for the possibility that we might be wrong. As a result, we often miss out on being blessed, because we fail to see through our angels’ disguise. 

So from today, this is what I want us to do differently: let’s pay attention to people . There is almost always more than meets the eye, so let’s go beyond what we see. Seek feedback from people you would normally never engage. Make time to get to know that quiet person at your office reception. Spend a few minutes chatting with the fruit seller at lunch. 

You will be amazed at the depth of knowledge, the hidden wisdom,and the surprising perspectives you can gain from people whose lives you know nothing about. The truth is, you can’t gain more wisdom by listening to fewer people. So expand your horizons.

God has no limits when it comes to the people he choses to bless you with, so don’t limit yourself with the people you pay attention to.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and I see you, so I want to hear you too.


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