I see what I can see. You see what you can see.
Once, my colleague and I were attending a meeting at a client’s office. The CEO and his leadership team were involved in a discussion. Both of us sat observing quietly. One of the business heads was making a passionate argument about a point while her colleagues looked on-some with attention, some others with disagreement on their faces. She continued to speak and the reactions clearly did not deter her.
My colleague quietly whispered- “Wow, that is one aggressive woman”. I looked back at him saying– “I think that is one passionately involved leader- she seems to be driving her point home from a place of deep conviction” I caught the surprise in my colleagues eyes as I said that.
My colleague and I are different observers of this event. Wonder why?
Our observer is informed by our history and our life experiences. What each of us has seen, attitudes in our family of origin, places that we’ve gone to, news items that we have read, the relationships we have been in- All life experiences and the meaning we have made of those inform our observer.
The observer that we are is a particular kind of lens.
This lens has some layers to it. Those layers are made of different ingredients that are informing it. One layer is culture, another is personal beliefs, another could be beliefs from our family system, another could be our concept of gender, and a layer influenced by what popular media feeds us these days.
The observer my colleague was could be: “Women who speak in this persuasive manner are aggressive.” The observer I was: “People who speak with this kind of energy are passionately convinced of what they are saying.”
Each of us brings a unique observer into a situation. For the most part, we remain unaware of this observer. We believe our thoughts are factual and real. But there is actually an observer and we are not aware of that observer.
Often in coaching, my job is to shift the observer of a leader. My invitation is for them to try on a different lens and suddenly what they see changes! Much like what happens when we are at the Ophthalmologist. As the doctor changes our lens we are suddenly able to see clearly. This also means that the lens for each person is different, since the ‘eyes’ or the observer that each of us are, is different.
Here is a claim I make:
NEW Observer- NEW Actions- NEW Results
What are the layers to my lens?
Where have those layers come from?
How are those layers influencing how I act?
What if I have to apply a new layer to it? Borrow anothers’ view/lens?
How does that change my action?
How does it change what I feel?
How might that create a new way of being for me?
Asking ourselves these questions can be an important step towards shifting who we are as leaders.
With that new lens of observing, we can act differently thus generating new and more powerful results.
Creating a new observer is an interesting place of design for the Self.
Do you connect with this?