THE MAN, THE LADY AND THE TIGER

Imagine you find yourself in the forest; deep, dark, and dense. You look and listen for things familiar.  There is a faint sound in the trees.  You sit quietly but you see nothing. All of a sudden, you see the source of the sound. A man is running and running fast. You wonder why.A closer look reveals a possible reason. Running in front of the man is a beautiful lady, long hair falling across her bare shoulders and down to her waist. She glances back, smiles at the man and picks up her pace even more.

 Her allusiveness has made him out of breath and needing a rest, but the lady never stops, so the man presses on. The quest to catch the lady has consumed most of his life, but somehow he believes the prize is worth the sacrifice.

But another glance shows the shadow of a third figure. This darkness runs as fast as the man and matches his every step. A little light falls on the shadow and now we know the third figure in the race is a tiger.

His eyes are fixed on the man and his claws dig deep into the Earth as he runs. Never looking left or right, he has but one prey in sight. So what will be the outcome? If the man runs faster, he may catch the lady, but then what? He’s not sure, but he runs all the same. If he slows down he knows he will definitely be caught by the tiger.

So here is the question: Why does the man run? Why do we all run? Are we running from or running to? Is it the prize we seek that makes us run, or the fear of getting overtaken? Most would say the prize, but I disagree. I believe for many, it is the hot breath of the tiger that quickens their pace.

We all recognize the lady. She’s the ribbon for winning the race or the good grade on a test at school. Later, she’s the promotion at work or the bonus for achieving a goal. We know the lady very well, but what about the tiger. Most of the time we’re not sure what the tiger looks like. We would rather not imagine the sharpness of his teeth, but still, we shudder at the thought.

Do we run the race to get the trophy or not to be overtaken by the runners behind us? Do we make good grades in school for our own achievement or to avoid our parents’ disappointment? Do we study hard for the college chemistry to pass or not to fail? Do we marry to be happy or not to be lonely?

I’ve had the good fortune to manage a very large sales force and have always considered myself a leader that motivated others to achieve by painting the dream for them. I was in a meeting with an attorney I admire and trust. He asked, “Do you know why people perform so well in your company? It may be different than you think. They perform because they don’t want to disappoint you.”

I must admit, I was taken aback. But when I think about the man, the lady and the tiger, it makes sense. I have come to believe that most decisions in our personal and business lives are made from fear of loss rather than pursuit of gain. We are running from something rather than running to something.

But is that so bad? Maybe not. Thinking of the tiger’s teeth creates the urgency that may be much greater than the pleasure of the lady’s kiss. Isn’t it results that we desire? Just a thought.

Now you can resume running.

Steve Haberly

Can the Lost be Found?

Can a connection to morality be repaired once broken?

Let me propose this to you. If you are lost, you cannot find your way until you find yourself. You cannot find yourself until you face the fact of who you really are and admit that you are lost. Lost, alone and confused, but ready and willing to be found.

Found in this context is an interesting word. Can someone who was lost, grab hold of something stable and find their way? Can they write a narrative for their life and maybe a new code to live by or are they forever lost? I hope to answer that question in this blog. To give you a hint of my position on this matter, I don’t believe anyone is incapable of salvationI had an interesting experience the other day. I was talking to a friend about morals and ethics and said to him, “I want you to imagine something for me.” He seemed perplexed, but willing. “I want you to imagine you grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Your father was a drunk and left your mother when you were only 6 years old. Your mother never got over the hurt and turned to drugs to medicate the pain. With no functioning family, you got in with the wrong crowd and became a troubled youth and then a real problem as a teenager. A few brushes with the law and some time in juvenile detention were just the beginning. But somewhere in your 20’s something changed. A close friend died from an overdose and another went to jail for dealing drugs. You wanted out. Out of the life that was spiraling to destruction. You needed to start over. “What would you do?” I asked this of my friend and he quickly said, “Not an easy answer.” Not an easy question, is it?

Let’s think of it another way. You’re the captain of a sailing ship lost in a storm. When the winds subside and the seas calm down you realize you are truly lost. How do you find out where you are so you can set a course to where you want to be? Can you ever navigate to where you want to be if you don’t know where you are? I don’t think so.

Seems to me you are just like the captain in need of a star. A fixed point in the sea of confusion. So maybe that’s the key but where do you look for a star? Just like the captain, you look upward, of course. In navigation we must first find a seemingly non-moving object in order to use as our sextant or our senses to chart a course.

Where can you find this object that is so solid it can’t be moved? For some it’s family. Family is the solid rock they can navigate toward and from. For the sea captain and many others, it’s the heavens where they came from and where they lean, in times of chaos.

Find that still, unchanging point to look toward, and then build your map around it, no matter whether it’s family, faith or a faraway star. If you want to be found bad enough, you will find yourself. I am sure. Once you are ready, that stable thing in your life will start you building a new map. A moral map based on principles that you can build a life around. But the process of building a new moral map is not easy. It’s not. It first requires desire to change and second a commitment to weather the storms that will surely come.

There’s an interesting force in nature that will pull you back to your past ways. Nature might welcome change in the form of evolving of species but in the case of a persons’s moral direction, change is much more difficult.

Let’s look at this in the case of coping skills. We might work very hard to develop skills to handle difficult situations and in most cases these skills work fine. But what about those situations that push us past our ability to cope? Here’s what happens. We resort to old behaviors in order to survive. That could be shutting down and refusing to engage but it might be the opposite. Our fight or flight system kicks in and we chose to fight. This could be a verbal, but unfortunately, in some cases it results in violence. But that might be the only coping mechanism you know.

Let me give you a sports example from my own life. When I started snow skiing, many years ago, I began with my skis in a wedge. This provided the best control.

Later I graduated to a more parallel position and 95% of the time I glide down the intermediate runs in great control.

But from time to time I become overconfident and stand at the top of a black expert slope. I start down but eventually realize I’m past my skill level and so to regain control, I resort to what? You guessed it. My wedge. My survival skill. Think of this as coping in the worst of situations. Life mirrors the mountain and from time to time we are faced with an expert run full of bumps.

This same situation can occur whenever you’re faced with tough moral and ethical decisions. I can promise, you will resort to old habits unless new habits from your new map are developed and old habits are erased. So how do you develop a new habit if the one you have keeps getting you into trouble?

You must build a new you.

Building a new you starts with your moral map. Try to erase from the map all the toxic rules you have been living by. The ones that hurt you and can hurt others as well. Erase the ones that are only self-serving and do nothing for the betterment of humanity. If you want to feel better about you, do something for someone else.

Remember, this moral map is really a decision and behavior filter, full of the ethics and beliefs you will use in making your toughest decisions. To build this new map, look to those unmoving objects and ask how they decide what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. Something that is stable and unchanging. Maybe family or faith or in some cases real friends. I mean real friends. Not the ones that suck the life out of you but the ones that breathe life into you. The friends that celebrate you and lift you up. The friends that always leave you feeling better about yourself.

Ask yourself if their moral code would fit the person you want to become. If the answer is yes then lean on that rock and start building your map.

Being found sometimes requires reaching back to continue forward. It’s not the total answer for finding yourself and your way through life. But it’s a great place to start your long journey of being found and not lost anymore.

– Steve Haberly

Do not miss my next blog, The man, the lady and the tiger

Lost: the Broken Connection

 
Why do we get lost? When the connection between our map, compass and alarm is broken, we get lost. It’s the broken connection. The map that you build could be of the highest moral standard or it could be totally self serving. When the compass and the map lose connection altogether, you can become disoriented. Even worse, when there is no connection at all between your compass and alarm, you don’t even know you’re  lost, until you are completely lost.
So, where does your belief system, or map, come from? For some of you, it’s the standards, morals, customs, ethics from the society in which you were raised. For others, it’s the religion followed and practiced from youth into adulthood. For many, it’s your family who taught you right from wrong and good from bad. But for most, it’s a combination of all these factors that formed the rules they live by, right or wrong.


98534BC5-BEF5-4C15-8177-1C898C3D5050What if you had no strong moral fiber in your youth. There were no pages written by your family or society, other than those that were self-serving. You could easily navigate through life with a bad map and a broken compass. Without a moral map you jump from experience to experience, learning many of the wrong lessons. Each time, you are in uncharted territory, without a clear way forward.
BCE70DAD-E620-4EDE-91A3-2797FCD21078When you look back after straying off the right path, the path you made is gone. It’s grown over by time and your missteps. You don’t know how you got there and haven’t the slightest clue which way is home. The few moral lessons you left behind have been scattered by the chaos and confusion that is your world today. You look for the right path, but it’s nowhere to be found. There’s no path ahead and none behind. You feel lost and confused. The pages in your book were the markers of your decisions made by reaction rather than reason.
A few of the pages left on your life’s journey might have shown you the way back, but back to where or what? Back to where you came from? Maybe. Back to where you started? Possibly. But what if you came from a broken home or from a group of individuals that had no morals? There would be no sane place to go back to, no ethical model to filter your decisions through. 
Along your journey you are faced with many decisions that arise from problems or opportunities. You might make these decisions in three very different ways.
D30E5A79-F026-49A9-9E82-BE2EEC38614DWhen you don’t know which path to choose, sometimes you just guess and pick one. No rhyme, no reason, you just take door number one. Because there was no filtering process in your decision making, there is no process learned that can be repeated. So, there are no important pages left behind to show you the way. 
The second way you might make decisions is greed. “I will make the choice that benefits me the most.” A lot of bad decisions are made in these two processes. Let me explain. Your decisions and actions, as you travel through life, write a line or even a page in your book. A page can become a marker of the path once taken and the decisions once made. 
The third way you might make decisions is by following a standard or code. A code defining who you are and what you believe. Some might call it a belief system. Every time you make a decision by filtering it through your belief system it strengthens your resolve and it lays down a marker on your life map.
A life lived without a belief system has no process, other than chance and selfishness. It leaves no marks on your map that can be easily followed by showing you the way back or the way forward.

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Any markers left are just bread crumbs and will be scattered by the wind or eaten by the birds. A weak map is covered with lost travelers. You will need a belief system that builds a strong map. But that isn’t enough. You will need an alarm that warns when you have strayed off course. 

C7A3C70A-681A-4F5D-AEB8-C6B62AEBB738Your belief system or life map is housed in your head, but your warning system or alarm is in your stomach.

Connect with them both. Follow one and listen to the other.

Steve Haberly

Lost, a life without connection

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“When I lost me, you knew where I left me.”

I heard this line a few days ago and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was the “lost me” part that hit a nerve. LOST brings a powerful picture and sends chills down my spine.

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If you tell me you’ve never felt lost then you’re lying to yourself and me. I don’t mean lost because your car GPS is out of order and I don’t mean lost because you can’t find your favorite coffee in the grocery store. 

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Lost, standing at a turning point in your life with no clue which way to go. Faced with a decision without the knowledge or the courage to choose a direction. Lost, really lost. It’s a frightening place to be, this place called lost. So how does this happen? How do you get lost and why do some never find their way back?

40D6F1CD-C757-4C92-A745-EDCE8B17A628I like to think of it this way. When you are a child, your view of life is like an open book. A book with lots of open space on which to write your story. The beginning is filled with experiences. Some of these are insignificant but others are dramatic and important. The important things that you learn become a significant part of your story. The very important ones might even become chapters. They rarely get erased or forgotten and over time they become rules by which you live.

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 A simple example might be that fire is hot and will burn you, don’t touch.  A rule written from personal experience. There are many of these simple rules, but also some that are harder to learn and have a more dramatic effect on our life.  Some pages are written by experience but others are written by the environment in which you grow up. This environment might be your family, friends, school, church or society.  They all have their book of rules.

4DE285DA-BB6C-4A69-B18A-E06A84295648Rules they live by and try

to pass on to you. 

sometimes successfully and sometimes not, 

Over time, your book becomes filled, page after page. Maybe you should call them standards, morals and ethics, or life guidelines by which to live. No matter what you call them, they become your belief system.  This system of beliefs helps you discern right from wrong.  It’s the filter you pass things through to accept or reject them.  It’s the foundation of your future.

Along with this experience and environmentally created map you also need a compass. A life compass that points true North. A direction you can depend on. A compass that points to a path forward or even home. Let’s start out assuming you have a strong moral and ethical map. Unfortunately, it may not be enough to navigate through the turbulent waters and rocky narrows of life.

You need more. You need to know when you have veered off course.

A004CEF7-842A-42C5-A7A1-A6BEF62D8C8EYou need an alarm. If your life map and compass are in your head, the alarm is surely in your stomach. I’ve stated many times that your head might sometimes lie to you, but your stomach never does.

In summary, your environment and experience builds the book of your life. From this book you build a map of how things should work and that map resides in your head. Over time, you develop a compass that shows you a direction on the map. That compass also resides in your head. When making decisions, you filter the data through your book and see how it compares to the map of your belief system. You make a decision and then check your alarm system to see if you are on course. The alarm lives in your stomach. 

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

It’s not.

Why do we get lost? It’s the subject of my next blog. Don’t miss it, it could change your life. 

Steve Haberly

Please leave a comment.

The Country needs a Hero

I long for the days when I could believe what the news anchor said. When I was a young man, Walter Cronkite held our trust in his fatherly hands and he held it honestly and tenderly. Over the years, I have become such a cynic. There is no real news. There is nowhere to go and get the truth. What we get are faux facts, manufactured to look like truth but spun to become sensational. Or we get half facts. Facts that are pulled out of context so the real meaning is completely lost.

What kind of world are we living in? Do they think we’re too stupid to understand? Have they forgotten it is government by the people? I believe if we are given the facts and educated about the problems, we could make good decisions.

What we need is a hero. Someone we can believe in. Someone we can trust.


When I was young there were heroes, people who rode white horses and rescued damsels in distress.  Good triumphed over evil and the day was saved. The good guys had names like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Audie Murphy. If it was on television it was true. How dare somebody get on television now and say something that is not true. In those days, even senators and congressmen understood their responsibility to the people who elected them.  Do you think our children look up to the politicians they see on television today? I hope not!

Where are our heroes? I feel so discouraged at what I see and hear. I want someone to look up to. Someone who grabs the microphone or the podium and tells us the truth. But I know I can’t change the way television networks fight for ratings or what lies politicians will tell to get re-elected. So what can we do?  We can express our beliefs using the freedom we have in this country, our vote. Vote your conscience.

But there is also something I can do every day. I can be the person that goes to work and treats people fairly every day. I can be a husband that shows my wife how much I love her every day. I can be a model of honesty and kindness for my children and grandchildren.  I can be the best friend my friends could ever have. I can be the best me that I can be.

So here’s the commitment we all need to make:

First, we will do the things to become a hero in the lives of the people we love. And then, we will reach out and find those people that are disillusioned and be a hero for them. Heroes aren’t dead they’re just waiting to appear when they are most needed. They’re needed now.

Be a hero.

Steve Haberly

Finding Your Purpose

E4B2E32B-A95A-4049-9BCC-0BEA4A506AD7What is my purpose?  Why am I here? If I just knew the answer to those universal questions, maybe I’d know what to do next.

I’ve reached this point in my life where the end seems near, but I know I’m not done yet. I have another game to play. Another chance to step to the plate and park one over the left field fence.When I die and face St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, what if he says “Nice try. You did play hard, but you always played it safe. You hit a single when you could’ve pounded one into the left field bleachers. You didn’t make an out, that’s for sure, but you also didn’t make a difference.”

And I ask, “What do you mean?”

“The game was lost. You’re single just wasn’t enough.”

“I didn’t know I was supposed to reach for the seats. I didn’t know it was my job. I didn’t know that  my purpose was.  I thought I was just a player. It was someone else’s job to win the game. Someone else’s job to be a hero.915F397A-4784-43E2-8F20-3F108DE4EBC9What if I’d hit a home run and won the game?  Would it have changed the life of one or even many? I just didn’t know. I just didn’t know.” 

That’s how I feel sometimes. Maybe you do too. Why am I here and what part am I supposed to play? What can we do to find our purpose? I read an article by Mei Mei Fox about an interesting approach that may help us get started.  She suggested creating a vision board

On a wall or a poster board, if you can’t use pins or tape on your wall, we’ll create this vision board. Out of a 3×5 card cut out the word purpose. Put this cut out in the middle of your wall.

Now, over the next few days or weeks, cut out pictures of things that excite you, ignite you or make you happy. Put these on your wall around your purpose. As your Vision Board fills up, take time to look at the pictures. Is there a trend to the images? If so, maybe you should explore what it’s trying to tell you. Then, is what you’re passionate about the key to your purpose? Maybe not the only key, but at least a place to start exploring. 

Is this really why we’re here, just to find out what we are passionate about?  Somehow I don’t think so. Let’s look at it another way. Our life on Earth could be defined in 3 simple ways.

First: Our life has a positive impact on the world.  

Second: Our life has a negative impact on the world. 

Third:  Our life has no impact at all.

Which path do you choose? Most people would probably choose the first option. Now that was easy, wasn’t it? Now that you’ve decided on at least one of your goals in your life’s purpose, how do you make it happen?

Since that you have chosen to have an impact, the next step is to uncover the tools you already possess that could fashion this impact. What if we make another board? This will be the things we’re good at. Our abilities. Cut out pictures that represent your skills and talents. Place them on the second board around the word skills. Include all the things you do well. This could be based on the quality of what you built or created or maybe even what others said about your creations. “Wow, you have a future as an artist. That painting is beautiful.”

This is a good time to go back and look at your first vision board. You put those pictures there for a reason. They must have created a feeling. Now’s the time to explore that feeling. Find the picture that reminds you of something you would enjoy doing for someone or with someone.Now look at your skills board. Match the skill with the activity that you could do for someone else. Where does the joyful activity and the talent intersect? Where they align is a great activity to share with others and make their life better.

There’s another way to look at purpose. The journey is the purpose. Let’s talk about that trip to find our purpose.CAF662C7-CE39-4AE4-BFC7-DC393123BF77It starts with a jouney. The road will be bumpy and sometimes narrow. Sometimes it will be exhilarating, but often exasperating. Howver, with open minds, we will see, hear and feel life at every turn.

This  journey is not made to be taken alone. You will assemble a team of friends, acquaintances, family. Your allies.Each will teach you something, for each has their own passions, joys and talents. You may be surprised that the one you least expect ends up supplying the knowledge you most require just to survive the trip.You will grow with each step and often grow the most from the challenges you face and the adversity you overcome. Along the way you will chisel the stone to form what the journey has shown you as your purpose.

You will return from your journey with some scars and bruises but with the wisdom to truly make a difference. A chance to give back. A chance to make a positive impact.

 Your purpose will absorb you. It will free you. It will challenge you.54D1EFC2-2E83-4A83-98E4-8313982C258A

Now it’s up to you. GO MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN.

Steve Haberly

Understanding the Disconnect

In my first blog I explained connection . Now it is time to explore the disconnect, because a disconnect may result in loss of relationships, both business and personal. Understanding the disconnect is vital before attempting to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Yes, vital, but not simple by any means. There are four concepts I feel come into play when disconnection occurs.

First, the difficulty in repairing connection is directly proportional to the amount of time that has passed since the disconnectThe longer you have been lost, the harder it is to find your way back.

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Second, the desire to reconnect is inversely proportional to the amount of time that has passed since the disconnectIf you have been disconnected too long, the desire to reconnect fades.

Third, and maybe most important, is the amount of effort required to reconnect is greater than the amount of gain received from the reconnectionIt just doesn’t seem worth the effort. I have observed many marriages over the years where it is so obvious when they have reached the final realization, “It’s just not worth fixing.” The same is true in business.

Fourth, the amount of time that elapses before you react and attempt a reconnect is a direct indicator to the other person about how much you value the relationship.  

Let me give you an example:

You and the customer have had a great relationship in the past and he always seems glad to see you during your regular calls at his location. This time his assistant says he is really busy and can’t see you. Next month you become really busy yourself and don’t get by his building to update him on the project progress.

The month after, you find yourself sitting in the waiting room while he meets with someone else. After what seems like forever, the assistant sends you in. You sit down and decision maker immediately looks at his watch and says he only has a few minutes. You say you understand and most of what you wanted to say can wait until next month.

Next, when you ask to see the manager, you are greeted by the purchaser who informs you that your contract is not being extended and the remainder of the project is being bid out. When you get back to your car you ask yourself, “How long ago did I first feel the relationship changing? Why didn’t I react?”

The amount of time that was allowed to pass has a direct effect on your desire to reconnect.

A disconnect ignored for too long is a connection forever broken.

Steve Haberly

 

Understanding the Disconnect

In my first blog I explained connection . Now it is time to explore the disconnect, because a disconnect may result in loss of relationships, both business and personal. Understanding the disconnect is vital before attempting to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Yes, vital, but not simple by any means. There are four concepts I feel come into play when disconnection occurs.

First, the difficulty in repairing connection is directly proportional to the amount of time that has passed since the disconnectThe longer you have been lost, the harder it is to find your way back.

img_0006

Second, the desire to reconnect is inversely proportional to the amount of time that has passed since the disconnectIf you have been disconnected too long, the desire to reconnect fades.

Third, and maybe most important, is the amount of effort required to reconnect is greater than the amount of gain received from the reconnectionIt just doesn’t seem worth the effort. I have observed many marriages over the years where it is so obvious when they have reached the final realization, “It’s just not worth fixing.” The same is true in business.

Fourth, the amount of time that elapses before you react and attempt a reconnect is a direct indicator to the other person about how much you value the relationship.  

Let me give you an example:

You and the customer have had a great relationship in the past and he always seems glad to see you during your regular calls at his location. This time his assistant says he is really busy and can’t see you. Next month you become really busy yourself and don’t get by his building to update him on the project progress.

The month after, you find yourself sitting in the waiting room while he meets with someone else. After what seems like forever, the assistant sends you in. You sit down and decision maker immediately looks at his watch and says he only has a few minutes. You say you understand and most of what you wanted to say can wait until next month.

Next, when you ask to see the manager, you are greeted by the purchaser who informs you that your contract is not being extended and the remainder of the project is being bid out. When you get back to your car you ask yourself, “How long ago did I first feel the relationship changing? Why didn’t I react?”

The amount of time that was allowed to pass has a direct effect on your desire to reconnect.

A disconnect ignored for too long is a connection forever broken.

Steve Haberly

 

Elevator Wisdom

Life’s like an elevator.  Sometimes you go up; sometimes you go down; sometimes you get stuck between floors. Wisdom can be found in many places. I learned many things in school, but now I have a new seat of learning.  The elevator.

I tried this opportunity for learning a few years ago and have continued it to this day. When I get in an elevator and there is only one other person on board, I say this: “May I ask you a question?” They almost always say yes or even certainly. So I ask, “What’s the most important thing you have to do today?” At first, they seem a little surprised that a perfect stranger is talking to them and maybe even startled that this stranger would ask such a question. But they always answer and the answers often will surprise you. Let me share a few of these responses.

I was in an elevator in Sydney, Australia and a young man stepped in. He was dressed in a blue suit with a red tie. He was nice looking and well groomed.  I asked him the question and he responded, “I have a job interview in an hour and I’m going for a walk to prepare my responses to their most likely questions.” I asked, “Are you ready?” “Yes,” he said. “I’ve really been preparing for this job interview. When I’m prepared, I am confident.”

What did I learn? Confidence comes with preparation

A few days later at an office building in Sydney a young lady stepped into the elevator. I was with a fellow manager at my company and he knew what I was about to ask. I must admit he looked a little embarrassed, but I asked the question anyway,”What’s the most important thing you have to do today?” She looked at me and said, “My job.”  But then she thought for a second or two and said, “Love my job.”  That comment was so powerful that I think of it almost every day.

What did I learn? Love your job. To be happy in your job you must find a way to love what you do.

I love what Kahlil Gibran said “If you cannot work with joy in your heart, sit at the gates of the temple and take alms from those that can.”  Love your job.

I was in a city back in the U.S. and found myself alone in an elevator with a very pretty woman about 30.  She was dressed in very smart and fashionable attire. She glared at the elevator doors as they closed.

I hesitated to ask my question, but just couldn’t stop myself. “What’s the most important thing you have to do today?” She looked straight at me and said, “Attend my divorce hearing.” “Sorry.” I said. “Thank you,” she said “but it’s time to move on. Some things end and others begin.”

What did I learn? Life is full of endings but also full of beginnings. It’s the natural cycle of life.  For every ending there’s a beginning, and hope springs eternal.

Many things in life come in threes and so I will share a third one with you. I stepped into the elevator dressed in my blue jeans and a sweatshirt, looking a little unkempt. The doors opened on the 10th floor and a woman stepped inside. Her hair was a little out of place and her face a little red. But I asked my question anyway. “What’s the most important thing you have to do today?” She looked at me, surprised by my question but answered anyway. “My husband and I just had a disagreement and I need to cool down and think before I say something I’ll regret.” “I hope you and your husband can work this out.”  “We will,” she said. “I just need to put my emotions aside and try to see the problem through his eyes. He says I can be stubborn. He’s probably right.”

What did I learn? Think before you speak. Take a time out if necessary. Try to see the problem through other eyes.

Now, I won’t tell you that every response I received was a jewel of wisdom. Some were just pebbles. Some people didn’t answer at all and some pretended not to hear the question.  But most answered with honesty and openness.

Elevator Wisdom is like life. Whether you’re going up or down, you’re always going somewhere and learning something new. Enjoy the ride.

Steve Haberly

Connecting with 20/20 Vision

What if you could see the world through someone else’s glasses; walk in their shoes; drink their water; know their stresses; feel their joy and understand their pain? Would your own view of things change?  I propose to you that it would. We often believe that what we see is what everyone else sees. We are sadly mistaken.

 A hungry child walking to school may only hear the sound of his empty stomach and not the sound of opportunity. Another kid’s biggest fear may be getting to school without being bullied, not whether he can pass his math test.

The single mother who is raising 3 children and working 2 jobs has a completely different view of life than a corporate executive who just cashed in his stock options.

How can we hope to understand anything if we cannot view that thing through the eyes of those who are most affected. We can have sympathy, but not empathy. I believe sympathy says “I understand” while empathy says “I will help.”

How are we supposed to help if we don’t understand?  How can we have a great marriage if we cannot see the marriage through the eyes of our spouse? Our actions will be what we believe is important to make her happy, but might miss the mark completely. If we saw the marriage through her eyes, would our actions be different? I believe they would.

What about business? If we could see the customer’s business through the customer’s eyes we would be more effective in applying resources in the right place to solve the right problem. Too often, we don’t really know the customer’s real concerns, so we apply our effort to solve what ends up to be a minor issue and we miss the major one. We just have the wrong view of things.

What about new business?  If you were preparing a proposal for a significant piece of new business, would you benefit if you knew what was most important to that prospect? What if there were concerns the prospect held, but didn’t feel comfortable sharing with you? Could that keep you from getting the account? Of course. But what if you could see those concerns through the eyes of your prospect. Would your success increase? Absolutely.

I hope I’ve effectively made the case that having 20/20 vision and  seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, is a powerful tool in all aspects of life. But how do you acquire this skill?

I can help with that, but first let’s understand why it’s so difficult to develop. I want you to imagine you are looking at a sporting event. Maybe a European football match (soccer for us North Americans). You see one team in red shirts and black shorts and the other team in black shirts and black shorts. There are also referees in striped shirts and black shorts.The game looks exciting and both teams seem evenly matched. Now, put a filter in front of your eyes. With this filter you do not see red. In fact, you now see red as black. How does the game look now? You’re right. There’s only one team on the field and they’re all dressed in black. However, they all seem to be fighting over the ball. It must be an inner squad game, otherwise why would only one team take the field?  Do you see how your  filter has changed the game?

We all have filters that distort our view of the world. The filter is built piece by piece until it’s so thick that we rarely see what is really there. How did that happen? The filter starts when we are young and we take on the views of our parents, our community and our friends. The filter may form our view of other races or people, those that don’t share our religion or it might form our view of gender or age. But I assure you, the filter is there. The frightening fact is that we get so used to seeing through the filter, that we forget it’s there. But it is seeing life through a glass darkly distorting our view and creating our perception. This perception is distorted by our ignorance, closed mindedness, prejudice and bias and creates our own subjective lens.

So how can we change? The first step is to recognize the problem. Understand that what you see is not the truth. The truth is something else.

The second step is your desire to change. Change takes time and might even be painful. As you see the world differently, you may lose friends or even alienate family. Because, as you remove your subjective lens, they may wish to keep theirs.

Third, you must start your travel by looking inward and seeing yourself. See yourself the way others see you. You, from another viewpoint.

Fourth, employ the tactic of tuning in.  Life’s background noise makes it hard to hear what’s really important. Sometimes it feels like our life is a radio that is just slightly off the station. Static confuses the message. When we tune in we remove the background noise. We focus on what’s really there.

Only after tuning in to our own thoughts and perceptions can we began to tune in to the things around us. Tuning in may not require words, just hearing what is not spoken. It is understanding what is not said.

Fifth, develop true empathy. The one thing we all search for is connection. This is something I’ve talked about in many of my blogs. Why do we want to see clearly? We want to connect. Our subjective lens keeps us from connecting. It limits and distorts our view and separates us from the truth. Real empathy means not only do I understand, but I want to help.

By following these steps you will come to see the world the way it really is. And only then, can you take actions that will make a real difference.

So, what will you see when you see 20/20?  A world of opportunity.

Steve Haberly