The Value Of Timing And Context
April 26, 2023
In 2007, The Washington Post conducted a fascinating social experiment that sparked much discussion. They enlisted the services of renowned violinist Joshua Bell to play his violin in a busy Washington D.C. subway station during the morning rush hour.
Bell is a prodigy who started playing violin at the age of four. Through years of hard work, he reached the pinnacle of the classical music world, playing at sold-out venues across the world, with ticket prizes going into hundreds of dollars.
That morning at the Washington DC subway station, Joshua Bell, dressed inconspicuously with a baseball cap on, played some of the most intricate and challenging classical pieces, expecting a crowd to gather around him in admiration. However, to everyone’s surprise, barely anyone stopped to listen, and he collected just a few dollars in tips.
This experiment showed how context affects our perception of value. In the setting of a prestigious concert hall, people would pay hundreds of dollars to see Bell perform. However, in a busy railway station, dressed like an ordinary person without the sheen of superstardom, his talent went unnoticed. It highlighted an important message: timing and context are critical.
Being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference. Conversely, even the most talented individuals may face rejection or failure if the timing or context is not appropriate.