Have you ever been on a trip with someone and later shared the pictures you had each taken? The first thing you will notice is that their pictures are completely different than yours. You went to the same places and photographed the same things yet you have vastly different pictures. How does that happen?
Some may think it is because of a difference in camera or lighting but the truth is that we are all seeing the world differently. We are each looking through our own, personalized “lens”. This lens has been created by your life experiences and your philosophy towards the world. Your lens is unique to you because you are unique in the world.
It has been said that, “No two people have ever read the exact same book.” Likewise, no two people will ever have the same view on any event in life. The event doesn’t change. The book doesn’t change. But the way each person perceives it is different.
For a historical example, when the colonists in America decided to break away from England, they called themselves “revolutionaries” or “freedom fighters”. But on the other side of the Atlantic, they were called “rebels” or even “terrorists”. Same events, different point of view, difference of opinion, different lens.
Most people have a hard time recognizing that there can be other “lenses” out there. Most think that their lens is the same one that everyone else is looking through. In fact, I would say that most disagreements in the world come from two people, businesses, or countries approaching situations looking through different “lenses.”
When problems arise at work or at home there is likely to be some disagreement over how to handle them because everybody is seeing it through a different lens. How often have you heard or used these phrases:
- “We just see things differently.”
- “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”
- “I see what you’re saying but…”
- “We just don’t see eye to eye.”
In all honesty, nobody sees eye to eye. Everybody sees things differently. The best problem solvers in the world are those who can recognize that. They don’t get stuck believing that the way they see a problem is the only way to see a problem. Not only do they try to understand other points of view, they are open to the fact that maybe somebody else has had experiences in life that let them see the problem from a better angle than their own.
Being a great problem-solver at home, at the office, or anywhere in life requires:
- Ability to recognize that there are other perspectives on the same problem.
- Humility to accept that your solution may not be the best or only answer.
- Willingness to mentally get up and change seats to get a new point of view.
We also can even perceive things differently at different times of life. Our lens can change over time. I look at the world much differently as a father than I did back when I was a teenager. I see things differently today about my employees than I did even a month ago. Experiences change the settings and focus of the lens we are looking through.
The next time you are in a disagreement with someone. Stop and think about the reasons why that person is seeing things differently than you. More importantly, be willing to accept that your lens may not be the best lens for solving the problem. Every good photographer uses multiple lenses when photographing a subject because each lens can see the subject differently. If a photographer shot every wedding with the same lens and the same settings, it would be extremely boring. The beauty comes in the diversity of using different lenses.
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