Tunnel vision

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (stljewishlight.com/chaplain).

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

Last week I was one of 73 participants in ReNEWed Jewish Leaders. The conference was held in Evanston, Ill., where professors from Kellogg School of Business taught our sessions. The final session was presented by Brian Uzzi, Ph.D. Using the movie classic “12 Angry Men” the topic of discussion was “Leading People: Persuasion and Influence Techniques.”

We were then asked to watch a brief video where people in white shirts and others in black shirts were passing a basketball amongst themselves. Our job was to count the passes made by individuals wearing a black shirt.

The room was filled with approximately 50 rabbis and more than 20 professionals. With the exception of those who had walked through this exercise, no one noticed that during the middle of the video a person in a full-body ape suit had walked out in the middle of the screen, made some arm movements then left.

All of us were so intent and focused on the task at hand that we missed was in front of our eyes. Once the truth was revealed and the video replayed, we all saw the ape. It was obvious. Well, it was obvious if we were looking for it.


How many times do we miss the apparent? The evidence stands in front of us, waving its hands, and we cannot recognize it? I consider myself observant to the world around me and to the feelings of those I am interacting with, yet I failed this simple test.

Slow down. Be aware. Move beyond tunnel vision. Be the world.