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First a quote: “You cannot see the great beauty around you if your vision is hampered by a defective lens.” Dr. Mardy Grothe

The first thing professional craftspeople are taught is to respect, and care for, the tools of their trade, regardless of profession. Photographers are taught to protect their camera lenses from dirt and scratches. Once scratched, a camera lens will never again yield an image of the highest possible quality, contrast or focus. Imperfect lenses yield imperfect images. Deep scratches can easily distort what we see through that lens.

Today I’m using “scratched lenses” as a metaphor, please let me explain.

We view the world through what I have begun calling our personal “lens on life”. Each of us views the world through our own unique set of personally crafted lenses. These lenses have been shaped by our unique experiences in life. No two people have an identical set of “lenses” because no two people have had the same unique experiences. Our view of the world is shaped by our “unique lenses” making it difficult for any two people to view any one situation, or event, the same. We have different “truths”, if you will, because our view of the world is often skewed by our own distinct lenses which have been not so carefully crafted by our unique life experiences.

The material at the core of our lenses becomes hardened and difficult to change over time. Many of our childhood experiences live here; both negative and positive, painful and joyful. Our deep-seated values and beliefs reside at the core of our lenses. This is what makes so many of life’s most difficult conflicts so challenging.

The outer surfaces of our personal “lenses on life” are still somewhat soft, more pliable and easily scratched. As we experience life, this outside surface tends to be continually changing as we mature and move from one phase of life, career or relationship to another.

As an example, let’s consider two contrasting “life experiences” for just a moment:

Person A is attacked by a vicious dog at an early age, say five or six years old. The wounds are serious enough for a trip to the ER involving stitches, shots and follow-up visits to a doctor. Person B grows up with a dog as a family pet, loving, cuddly and protective. Both experiences, unique and quite different, are likely to at least partially shape each person’s “lens on life” differently.

Because of those unique experiences, both individuals now look at almost all dogs through two very different lenses. Both valid, both real, both unique, both different. Both individuals may now hold “different truths” about dogs, at least as seen through their unique set of lenses. This is just one simple example of what researchers describe as an unconscious bias that each of us hold to be true regarding an almost infinite number of topics, people and situations.

Only by seeking to look through the lenses of another human being can we truly move beyond judging another person’s “truth” as either right or wrong, valid or invalid. Stephen Covey was right, if we want to be understood, we must first seek to understand. Rather than pointing out the scratches in the lenses of others, we should first work to clean and polish our own lenses, or at least work be more “aware” that we all view the world through a set of “scratched lenses”.

In summary, I offer these closing thoughts:

We each view the world through our own unique “lens on life”.
Individually, our “lens on life” has been uniquely shaped by our very personal set of life experiences. No two people view life, or the world, through the same set of lenses.
Leaders recognize they are viewing the world through “scratched & imperfect” lenses; that their “truths” as they know them, may be skewed by unique, and perhaps faulty lenses; the deeper the scratches, the more distorted their views become.
The outer surfaces of our lenses can be accidentally scratched or intentionally polished. It is only by becoming aware of the “scratches” in our own lenses that we can make efforts to remove the dirt and blemishes.
We also have a choice as to what lens to put on our camera. (Click here to read: Beauty on a Dreary Day; MMM, March 12, 2018)

What “scratches” need polishing on your lenses?

How will you lead differently, or better, this week?

Have a great week!!

Bryan Yager


“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”

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