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The Greatest Picture I Never Took

August 9, 2013

(No, there’s no picture to go along with that title. That’s the point!)

Yesterday I talked about home repairs, so it only makes sense that today I veer into quantum physics. (I promise this is not really a quantum physics blog entry)

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal
(Physics / General Physics) the. the principle that energy and time or position and momentum of a quantum mechanical system, cannot both be accurately measured simultaneously. The product of their uncertainties is always greater than or of the order of h, where h is the Planck constant Also called Heisenberg uncertainty principle indeterminacy principle

Heisenberg’s principal can be overly simplified to “You cannot know both the position of a particle and its speed.” Or, “trying to observe something changes it.”

I wasn’t thinking of Heisenberg when I didn’t take the greatest picture I’ve ever seen. However, I understood that trying too hard to capture a moment for the future ruins it for the present. It’s why I won’t offer to be the photographer for an event I want to enjoy.

It was around the same time I Found Out I Was A Jerk. It was late spring in Provo, Ut. It was on a Tuesday evening. I know that because we always had “all hands” meetings on Tuesdays. The meeting finished about 8:00pm. As 2,000 of us streamed out of the auditorium the sun had about ten minutes left before dipping behind the Western mountains.

On this particular evening the light perfectly lit up “Y Mountain” to the East. Here’s a picture of the mountainside on a typical day.


Now, imagine it bathed in a blood red light that lit the rock faces on fire and stretched the shadows ,drowning them back in the depths of the canyons. The slopes were lit in a way that I’d never seen before our since. We were mesmerized. We walked slowly up the hill to get a better view. As we emerged from the shadows, the sunlight lit up each of us in a fiery glow. The very air seemed alive with the light. We looked first at the mountainside, then at each other, then at the sun’s red disk gliding behind the hills and then back to the mountainside, only to repeat the cycle.

It was truly a magical moment.

And some people missed it.

See, this was before cell phones and cell phone cameras. We were missionaries, we all had cameras of course, but they were the bulky ones that weren’t good for much besides taking pictures.

(I shot thousands of feet of film with this over the years)

As the meeting let out and we were assaulted by the stark light and colors of the sunset, while some of us walked up the hill to more fully experience the unique sensation, others went down the hill to their dorms for their cameras. So desperate to capture the moment for the future that they lost it in the present. By the time they retrieved the cameras the sun was down and the moment was past.

What’s this have to do with Heisenberg? And more importantly, what does it have to do with business, the stated focus of this column?

Just that at times we need to enjoy the moment. Not often, especially if you are the one in charge, do you get to step back and enjoy your team’s accomplishments for their own sake.

I always try to give my team lots of credit. If I make them look good, it helps me look good. So, if one of my team is getting an award, or a promotion, I try to take the opportunity to step back from the pressures of how hard we worked to get to this point, or how much more we have to do. It’s at those moments, I like to let the focus simply be on the employee.

Those are the moments I remember best. . .even if I don’t have a picture to remind me.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, blogger and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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