The Journey of Perception
This past weekend I took my boys on a little journey and, since the trip, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how we perceive one another, it’s dangers, but more importantly, the necessity to be aware and humble of it.
The trip started early Friday afternoon. We journey 90 miles to the northwest to my hometown of Findlay, Ohio. For those of you that have read my previously blog entries you know that my childhood wasn’t normal by any means. When the opportunity came in 1999 to bolt and move to Columbus, I did so without the slightest hesitation, and for good and bad, I never looked back. The sights and sounds of Findlay were like nails on a chalkboard. Nostalgia was not present in any cell of my body.
Nearly 20 years later I returned at the request of my eldest, Jackson, and took a mental and emotional journey that I had not taken since leaving, even though I have physically journeyed that path once or twice. The trip started with a stop at my favorite pizza place, Jac N Do’s. The boys wanted to see the house I grew up in and my Aunt Judy’s house. The journey that I once perceived from house to house was much shorter than I remembered. The next relevant stop on their bucket list was where I went to Kindergarten, Northview Elementary. I could almost picture myself sitting on the monkey bars talking g to Stephanie Kuhlman, about whether I stay or go…. the playground that I once perceived as gigantic, dwarfed in comparison to the Columbus playgrounds I now see.
We drove past my favorite spots, stores, and parks… whatever they wanted to see. We concluded at Dietsch’s Ice Cream, where Jackson proudly told the gentleman behind the counter, who happened to be an owner, “my daddy use to work here and he made the best ice cream in the world”! To which he earned a hearty chuckle from Tom Dietsch.
As we navigated Findlay I realized distances between point A and B were much shorter than I once perceived. What I once perceived as a “long drive” in Findlay equated to a “quick trip” in Columbus. Further, the places I feared to see again or emotionally invest in brought fond memories and not pain. What I perceived to be a wound-yielding place became a place of peace and completeness in my heart. Those feelings pointed my brain toward my ” now” with my family and career, and how perception is an art of reality.
Friend, how does the world at home and work perceive you? More important, how conscious are you of that perception? Is it, “Dad is always grumpy”? “Susie won’t listen to my ideas”! “Don just doesn’t care”. “Molly is too busy for me”. Capture that first thought that came to mind and don’t let it go, chances are your thought was correct. Perception can be a wonderful self-reflection tool to make oneself better, but the prerequisite is humility. If my wife perceives me as “grumpy all the time” (she doesn’t FYI 😀), I can respond with “no you are wrong”, or ” hmm, she sees something I am missing”. Case in point… when we were dating I was stagnant in my career and felt like I was always getting passed over. I blamed and she coached. She said, “I know you think it is them, and it probably is, but what is it they see or don’t see in you that is causing you to be past over”. Six years after that sage advise I became an Exec in the very industry I was toiling in. I owe it to my wife and to God, but they used the tool of perception.
Now think of your workplace. How would your teams and peers perceive you? Easy to work with? Listener? Partner? Humble? Rolls her sleeves up? Values his people? Or the contrast? He is difficult and hard headed! It’s her way or the highway! Now he has an ego! So I have to take care of the clients while she does nothing! A thank you from him would be nice once in awhile!
It never feels good to have your flaws pointed out, particularly when you aren’t aware of them. So what do you do? Tomorrow when you go to work, find one or two colleagues that you trust and respect and ask for feedback. More important, commit them to be your accountability partner. Obtain feedback from different levels. “Tom, what can I do to be a better business partner”. “Carol, how can I make your day-to-day better”. “Tim, how was your weekend”? “Mary, I appreciate having you on my team”.
It starts with simple relationship building communication, the ability to handle and give feedback, and the acceptance that we must have constant character evolutions to be good parents, spouses, leaders, and partners. Ask yourself tomorrow, how can I show grace and humility to others today? You will find that question, and the subsequent action to be no different than pouring water on a dry garden.
Make it a go day friends!