“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
- Anaïs Nin
Our problems and challenges can seem very real.
However, as leaders, we’ve all heard the term “perception is reality”. The preconceptions and the beliefs we bring to situations can dramatically alter the way we perceive the world. This is particularly true in dealing with problems and challenges. It is not a new concept in leadership that brining positivity, inquisitiveness and proactiveness to a challenge, will most likely net positive results. In contrast, we are also aware that bringing negativity, pessimism and fear to the same situation, will most likely create less than optimum outcomes.
When we come right down to it, it is not what is happening to us that is the problem, but how we look at it and the perspective we bring to it. I know this may seem “pollyana-ish”, particularly when we are in the thick of things. But I believe we all can recall situations in our lives that at first glance seemed tragic and insurmountable and later turned out nowhere close to as bad as we thought. Oftentimes, these experiences became those for which we were most proud of overcoming and that grew our confidence and learning. As a result, we learned to become grateful for these challenges occurring.
It was our perceptions and the way we showed up to these situations that usually made the difference. As my teachers, Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick are known to say, “How you deal with the problem is the problem.” It is all based on our perceptions and the actions we choose to take based on those perceptions. Or, as the quote above from Anais Nin so eloquently states,
I am reminded of a story about two twin brothers who researchers had studied since the time they were infants. Both boys grew up with a father with major personal struggles. Their dad was drug and alcohol addicted, could not hold down a job, had abandoned them at a young age and had even served time in prison.
The researchers went to question the brothers, now in their early 30's. The first brother had unfortunately followed in his father's footsteps. He was a heavy user of drugs and alcohol, could not hold down a job, was estranged from his ex-wife and kids and had been incarcerated. When researchers asked him why his life had taken the path it had, he responded,
"Well, with a father like mine, how could I be any different?"
They then went to the second brother. His life had taken a very different path. He had graduated college, been married for years to a great woman with whom he had two amazing kids and had a career that he loved in which he was making an impact. When the researchers asked how he had achieved all he had in his life, he responded,
"Well, with father like mine, how could I be any different?"
Same situation, same upbringing, two very different perspectives; two very different lives.
The overcoming of almost any challenge is dramatically impacted by the perspective we bring to the situation and as a result, the questions we ask ourselves. Albert Einstein once stated, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I can solve the problem in less than 5 minutes.”
Here are five questions great leaders ask themselves and their organizations when dealing with challenges so they may bring their most empowered perspectives to the situation and maximize their results.
As you move forward this week, be aware of the challenges you may be encountering and be mindful of how you are responding. Ask yourself empowering questions and take inspired action, where appropriate. Be conscious of who you are being as a you do so. You never know; your greatest challenges may be your greatest gift.
Are you seeing things as they are, or are you seeing things as you are? It’s all in your perspective.
Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching
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