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Perception and Awareness

Perceptions and awareness provide as much variety in this world as does the way people look. Two people can witness the exact same thing, yet their stories may be entirely different.

Here is a perfect example. Brian and I were at the International Maxwell Conference in February, and each of us was taking notes during one of John’s talks. The information was incredible and coming fast and furious. I was outlining on my iPad (thank you, Google Docs!); Brian was also taking notes through Google Docs. We later take some time to compare and talk about what appealed to each of us and combine our notes so we get a better view of the presentation when we want to go back to information shared (yes … there are actually people that go back to material learned at a conference). Our notes, at best, contained only 50 percent of the same information. We both grasp the basic points, but Brian thinks about speaking, so he focuses on stories and writes the details. I think in terms of teaching later or something I can use to take action with later. The information is correct from both perspectives, and we are both right in the way we are thinking. The difference depends on our awareness of and intention for using the information.

In leadership teaching, we talk about the Law of the Lens—our perception of a situation will determine the information we absorb. We also talk about how important awareness is when looking at a situation from another’s viewpoint. If we want to see the whole situation, we must look at things through a variety of lenses. If we stay attached only to our own way of thinking or seeing things (our perspective), we will restrict our movements and thoughts. We literally limit our own potential. Raising our awareness and increasing our perspective unlocks potential, thereby unlocking additional leadership skills.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? The hard part is becoming aware on a conscious level so that we automatically look through the lenses of others (aka, broadening our perspective). It takes practice to adjust our behaviors rather than let our autopilot behavior do its thing.

Until we make the unconscious conscious it will control our destiny. —Carl Yung

Another leadership advantage gained by broadening your perspective and raising your awareness will be in your relationships, both personal and professional.

When we look at the perspective of another person, it not only gives us information to help us process how to better lead them, it can also help us know the person better. This opens doors to conversations that can make a person feel respected and cared about.

For instance, let’s say you notice a coworker is out of the office one afternoon. The next day when you see them, you could say something like, “I noticed you were gone yesterday afternoon. I hope it was for something fun!” If their answer is they went to a funeral, you can show sympathy and maybe even follow up a week later to see how they are doing. Or if, instead, they went to one of their kids’ ball games, find out which sport, who they play for, what position they play, if they travel much… Don’t make it an interrogation, though; just ask enough questions to get them talking a bit. Then, with your newfound awareness, follow up again later in the season or after a particular game or event. As you become more aware of someone’s life and ask specific questions to show you were listening, people will know you care. Whether they want to know anything about you is less important than that they know you care.

Caring develops influence. Influence is the ability to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone. Influence is leadership.

Nobody cares about what you know until they know how much you care. —John C. Maxwell

Isn’t it amazing what a little shift in your perspective will do just from intentionally raising your awareness? If you’d like to work on making that shift yourself or for your team and build influence more effectively, give us a call. That’s what we do at Leadership Harbor—empower people to realize their potential.

Thanks for reading!

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