A First Impression is Just Not Enough

146683720_0a5c48a7e6_b I visited China for the first time last week. My first impression came when I landed in Hong Kong. I found myself in an airport that has some of the largest interior spaces I have ever experienced. But the real impression came from the numbers of people who were walking through the airport. There were thousands of people within a quick glance. Now, I had arrived during Spring Festival, a time when traveling to family is done by practically everyone – creating the largest human migration in all history with over a billion people traveling from one place to another in China. It took only moments to know that China has a lot of people.

A few days after I arrived, my colleagues and I were invited to the home of one of the people we were working with. It was a most gracious offer. We were invited to join he and his family for dinner. What we didn’t know in advance was that they planned cooking a traditional meal of dumplings that we were going to be taught how to make. When we arrived, his father-in-law was making dumplings. First rolling the dough into perfect circles, filling them with one of two fillings, and crimping the edges to form perfect dumplings. Then, it was our turn. We picked up the circles of dough and clumsily filled and crimped the edges to form not-so-perfect dumplings. Regardless of the quality, we were congratulated and encouraged to make another one.

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With this gift of welcome and incorporation into the family, I was seeing a very different China. Populous as it is, the family took time to spend an evening with three strangers and make them feel completely welcome and pure enjoyment.

Many times I have said that I have time for only an overview. An overview would never have given the intimate connection and understanding that one small family had to offer.

How often when we visit a new place or try a new activity or review a new concept do we take the first impression and consider it the full impression? Do we purposely seek opportunities to look at different levels of granularity or are we satisfied with only an overview?

Photo by Steve Webel