A man sat at a metro station in Washington D.C. during rush hour. He opened his violin case, and without fanfare or participation from others he began playing the violin.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on to meet his train.
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip from a woman who threw the money in the till as she walked by without stopping.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother pushed him along but the kid kept his eyes on the violinist until he out of sight.
In the 45 minutes the violinist played, only six people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave money but continued walking by at their normal pace. The end result, the violinist collected $32. When he stopped playing and silence took over, no one noticed. No one applauded, there was no fanfare or recognition.
No one knew that the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most renowned musicians in the world. He had just finished playing one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin that was worth $3,500,000.
Just two days before his impromptu concert in the subway, Joshua Bell’s performance sold out at a theater in Boston. The prices for his performance were well over $150 a ticket.
This concert, or you can say case study, was initiated by the Washington Post. It was an experiment in “context, perception and priorities.” The purpose was to assess whether a brilliant idea was enough to unlock the doors to opportunity.
The result: A great idea, even if placed directly in people’s paths, is simply not enough to engage and create opportunities. Every idea needs context, a story to help the destiny of the idea. Establish and legitimize your idea with energy, focus, supporting structures and processes and then turn on the capacities of your team and creative partners to fulfill it. Also try something new and separate your idea from the multitude of others.