People who should know what they are talking about declare that the majority of folk only use their brains at half throttle. In other words we could be twice as alert, twice as clever and twice as successful as we are at prent. BP was well aware of this fact - and he was equally well aware of the remedy. From the earliest days of Scouting he was constantly stressing the vital importance of developing our powers of observation to the fullest possible extent.
The Chief was not one to preach what he didn't practise himself. He was already polishing up his powers of observation when only about Wolf Cub age. And he got some fun out of it too! He made himself familiar with the number on the collar of every policeman in the district where he lived. Then, when out for a stroll with a pal, he would shade his eyes with his hand and peer intently at a polieman on point-duty several hundred yeards away. To his friend's amazement he would "read" off the number on the polieman's uniform. And, of course, it would prove to be absolutely correct!
Another thing he did was to carry a little notebook and make sketches of all the weather-cocks in his town. All day and every day he was training his eyes and mind to observe and remember details that most folk would overlook. During his career as a soldier he would often amaze his fellow officers by taking in at one brief glance a mass of detail which took them several minutes to note.
How observant are you? If asked how many steps in your staircase, how many lamp posts in your street or the number of your neighbour's car, would you be stumped? These things may not be important in themselves, but it is important that we make observation - keen observation - an everday habit. So much so that we do it automatically and without effort.
Make a start this very day! Take mental notes of the people you pass in the street or who you pass on the way to school.
You are familiar with Kim's Game, which BP considered a valuable part of Scout and Guide training. This test can be varied in many ways. Study a bookstall for a minute and see how many magazine titles you can remember. Memorize house names and numbers, gaze at shop window displays etc. At first your brainpiece mechanism may give a few protesting rusty creaks at being made to bestir itself, but constant practice will oil the bearings.
Seriously thought, each one of us can improve our powers of observation enormously. The "course" won't cost a penny, but you stand to gain Pounds. But only you can make the actual decision to set the ball rolling and only you can press on with the good work. Don't drift through life on half throttle with your brain functioning on only one cyclinder. Open up the throttle and give your power of observation the chance to show its paces - and get you places!
Taken from : The Scout Annual 1963: Observation - The Key to Success by Trevor Holloway.