What do you fail to notice?

Today is March 19 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “what do you fail to notice?” We see famous people all the time. Actors and actresses, professional athletes, dancers, musicians, and so many other recognizable faces. When watching their movie, singing to their song, or admiring their dance routine, do you just see the tip of the iceberg – their success – or do you take the time to think about the entire iceberg – their life’s journey to get to where they are? How often do you wonder if they experienced any hardships along their path to get to where they are? You might surprise yourself and find out that some had to overcome life threatening situations.


Singer/songwriter Andrew Ross McMahon battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Actor Adam Devine was hit by a cement truck when he was 11 and needed 25 surgeries to recover. While in college actress Aubrey Plaza suffered a stroke that caused temporary paralysis and expressive aphasia. After the first season of Game of Thrones Emilia Clark suffered from serious brain issues. McMahon, Devine, Plaza and Clark all recovered from life-threating situations. But you would never know that while listening to McMahon sing Cecilia and the Satellite, a song about his baby girl or laughing at Devine and Plaza work together in the comedy film Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.


Emilia Clarke rose to international prominence for her breakthrough role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy television series Game of Thrones(2011–2019). The role has garnered her critical acclaim and several accolades, including three nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. After the first season she had a subarachnoid hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm, in February 2011. She underwent urgent endovascular coiling surgery and subsequently suffered from aphasia; at one point she was unable to recall her own name. She had a second aneurysm surgically treated in 2013.

As Clark said in a 2019 interview:


“I survived. In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes. I am now at a hundred per cent. Beyond my work as an actor, I’ve decided to throw myself into a charity I’ve helped develop in conjunction with partners in the U.K. and the U.S. It is called SameYou, and it aims to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke. I feel endless gratitude—to my mum and brother, to my doctors and nurses, to my friends. Every day, I miss my father, who died of cancer in 2016, and I can never thank him enough for holding my hand to the very end.”

When we look at famous people we too often see their celebrity – or the tip of the iceberg. If we do that to famous people do we apply the same lack of thinking towards others we encounter?


Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing noted "The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice." The next time you are watching or listening to a famous person, or anyone for that matter, ask yourself what you are failing to notice about them? If you are just recognizing what you see, their behavior or tip of the iceberg, you will fail to notice just how large the iceberg is.


This lack of awareness invariably impacts the range of what we think about that person. In other words, just looking at the tip of the iceberg prohibits you from truly understanding people. Are you so focused on the tip of the iceberg that you fail to notice anything else? And if so, why?