First a quote; “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde
Good morning and happy Monday. I hope this morning missive finds you and yours both safe and healthy.
In a recent post, I shared that I had recently, and inappropriately, lost my cool with a colleague. I have been surprised by how many people, after reading that post, responded back to me with some version of “me too.” While it is comforting to know I am not the only one showing the effects of our current environment, it does not justify inappropriate behavior by any of us, even during difficult times. Comforting? Yes! Appropriate? No!
In the responses shared by my friends and associates, there has been a common theme. Things, that under normal circumstances, would not have bothered them in the least; now, with our worlds turned upside down, those same things easily and quickly become blown out of proportion. Minor irritations, like a tiny pebble in one’s shoe, become rationalized reasons for “letting our ugly out.” It seems many, if not most of us, have a fair amount of pent up stress bubbling just below the surface waiting for a chance to be vented on some poor unsuspecting victim.
When pressure builds, and we become angry, bad things begin to happen. We “lock in” on the correctness of our viewpoint, refusing to listen to the perspectives of others, completely blind to our personal biases, conscious and unconscious alike. The more emotionally charged we become about a given topic, the more we feel the need to defend the “correctness” of our position. This phenomenon is evident in almost every news story you might watch on the evening news. This is a common tendency which affects all of us.
It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain
Each of us tend to think we see things as they are, that we are objective in our thinking and the conclusions we draw. This is not the case! We see the world, not as it is, but as we are, or as we are conditioned to see the world, or at least how we see the world through our own unique perspective.
Each of us views the world through a set of lenses which are unique to us as individuals. These lenses have been shaped and polished by our personal life experiences and our responses to those experiences. No two human beings have identical lenses because we have not had the same life experiences. Like snowflakes, no two sets of lenses are the same.
Everything we see is colored, or distorted, by our own personalized “lenses on life.” Oh, and by the way, our lenses are scratched and imperfect providing each of us a skewed perception of the world. What we see and perceive may be true from our perspective, but that truth is almost always incomplete.
And, as if that is not enough, there is an entire body of research around the subject of unconscious bias. In the mid-1950’s two psychologists (Hastorf & Cantril) conducted research asking college students from two rival schools to watch a recording of a recent football game between the two schools. As part of the study, students were asked to objectively identify the penalties that should have been flagged against each team.
You can probably guess the outcome. The students reported seeing half as many illegal plays by their own team when contrasted with the students from the opposing school. All students believed they were objective in their observations.
Aren’t we all like those students? We like to think we are objective in our thinking, and it is that thinking that both limits our thinking and gets us in trouble.
Tips to practice this week:
- Try to see the world through the lenses of other people, especially people who have had different life experiences or hold different perspectives.
- Seek wisdom through lenses beyond your own limited perspective. Wisdom typically lives well beyond our own limited range of knowledge.
- Remember your lenses are scratched, ask others about what they see through their scratched lenses. Begin to paint a more complete picture for yourself and others.
- Do not point out the scratches you in see in the lenses of others until you have fully identified the scratches in your own lenses.
- Be willing to share your truth, recognizing it is not the truth at least not the entire truth. When we seek broader perspectives, we discover a greater, and more holistic truth.
I remember reading this somewhere and have always appreciated the sentiment: “Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart, rather than a piece of our mind.” – attributed to Ritu Ghatourney
Let us be kind to ourselves this week. Let us also be kind to others. We can never fully appreciate the pain of another human being, but we can be patient, kind and understanding of each other.
How will you live, or lead, better or differently this coming week? I know I have a few scratches to polish.
Everyone can make a difference, and everyone should try. Be your best self this week.
Have a great week. Stay safe. Be well. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Keep pedaling!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “The greatest tragedy for any human being is going through their entire lives believing the only perspective that matters is their own.” – Doug Baldwin
- “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelis
- “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer
- “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu
- “Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.” – attributed to Andre Gide
- “When in doubt, tell the truth.” – Mark Twain
- “Before you give someone a piece of your mind, make sure you can get by with what you have left.” – Unknown
- “Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
- “If you’re wondering what I mean by “miracle”, it’s simple: a miracle is a shift in perspective from fear to love.” – Gabrielle Bernstein