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Emerging Insights, 1 February 2021
“Perception is projection!” Carl Jung
I had the privilege to work with a well-known celebrity chef who at the time was also the executive chef at a five-star hotel. Before meeting the chef in person, he was described to me as rebellious, at times stand offish and difficult to work with. Luckily, I went into our first meeting without any preconceptions. What I found was a humble, highly intelligent, and curious human being. A delight to work with!
So why was he seen as rebellious and difficult to work with?
A key issue was that he didn’t take feedback that was critical of his craft too well. As a very proud and highly skilled operator, he perceived that as an insult which expressed itself in defensive and confrontational behaviour.
In one of our sessions, he told me that often after executive meetings, he would have heated exchanges with the general manager of the hotel over issues that, to his thinking, unfairly questioned his work or challenged his opinions. Those exchanges would last up to one hour.
The issue wasn’t so much the work itself but rather a perceptual misunderstanding or narrow scope of perspective about the issue on my client’s behalf.
As he described the situation, two aspects stood out. My client, in these situations, tended to see and experience the world from a place of self-reference and difference. In other words, his attention was on himself, how the situation and exchange applied to him. And furthermore, how what was being communicated was different to what he perceived to be true. His behaviour was an expression of that view.
Then he had an insight …
“Behaviours are never wrong! They are just the humble servants and the observable expression of your inner world!” Mike Schwarzer
As we created a space for him to step out of his personal thinking, he had an insight, an embodied understanding. He suddenly saw himself through the eyes of the general manager. He could describe in eye opening detail, not only how he was perceived but also how he affected the other person with his irate and confrontational energy.
Furthermore, he learned that he and his general manager were literally operating from two different perceptual spaces and talking two different languages. The language of ‘Me – Personal Agenda’ and the language of ‘System – Business Agenda’
The general manager saw the world from a business rather than a personal perspective and from a place of sameness rather than difference. That means their attention was on the wider business system and how things would fit to running the business effectively and efficiently. Their intention wasn’t to personally attack and look for fault, they were just making sure that things fitted with the bigger picture and outcomes.
Within themselves, there is no right nor wrong with either of those or any other perceptual lens. It is just that, a perceptual lens. There is no better or worse. It’s just a way of seeing and experiencing our world. It is a matter of awareness that life’s situations have many different aspects. And if we look at them through a narrow lens, we only get to see parts of the story.
“The person with the most flexibility of behaviour will have the most influence in a system.” The Law of Requisite Variety
However, the more perceptual flexibility and fluidity we have, the more awareness of the terrain and its interrelationships that we interact with we have. This gives us greater choice in the way we can relate to it. That in turn that will show up in our behaviours and in the influence that we have over our interactions and relationships.
With this new insight and understanding, my client was able to widen his scope of perception and see the world not just through his own eyes but also that of others and the wider system.
With a wider scope of perception came a change in behaviour. Instead of being irate and overly confronting, he approached similar situations in a calm and curious manner. Paying attention to issues via multiple perceptual levels, allowed him to approach issues with greater perspective, clarity, and behavioural flexibility.
In the case of his exchanges with the general manager, he was able to discuss and relate issues and views in their perceptual language rather than in his own.
As a result, the one hour heated exchanges were less intense, much more productive and would take 10 minutes at the most.
As you widen your perception you’ll see with a clearer mind. With a clearer mind you’ll find problems dissolve, solutions emerge, and new possibilities arise. You may also find that you feel more alive and that you see opportunities in life’s challenges!
Most people seem to operate from a default setting in their bandwidth of awareness or consciousness. Some have a wider and some have a narrower bandwidth, and it appears to be static in nature. Yet from another angle, this bandwidth appears to be in a state of flux in which our level of consciousness expands and contracts. It tends to narrow the busier our mind is and expands the quieter our mind is.
What you might observe is that those with a greater capacity to see their environment from multiple perspectives seem to be more flexible and adaptable in responding to the circumstances around them. They naturally connect and relate well with their surroundings and the people they interact with. They tend to make wise decision.
So, how do you expand your bandwidth?
The simple answer is, get out of your head! Step out of your thinking and the perceptual reality that is attached to it! As you step back from it and into the silent space of your deeper mind, you begin to observe and feel the world and people around you from beyond your conditioned intellectual bias. From there and in your mind’s eye, project yourself into the space of your environment and the people in it. Keeping your mind silent, get a sense of what the world looks and feels like from there and notice what you become aware of.
If you are in the business of leading & enabling people, creating change & transformation, stimulate creativity & innovation, and maintaining your sanity in a complex terrain, the ability to see the world with fresh eyes and insight is vital.
With that in mind, always explore for yourself what’s being shared with you. Put it to the test!
Learn heaps and keep shining your light on the world! 😊
To your best
About Mike Schwarzer
Mike is a Transformation Professional and Learning Leader who is passionate about helping leaders and organisations to solve the problems that they have not been able to solve elsewhere.
He works with the underlying mental, behavioural and deeper innate dynamics that drive people’s and organisations’ thinking and actions. He creates and holds the space where they learn how to tap into their inner and outer capabilities in transformational ways and lift their perceptual abilities to see their world, its problems and emerging solutions with fresh eyes.
At the organisational level, Mike’s approach challenges the status quo and hierarchical thinking. He takes you into the world of living ‘open & adaptive’ systems and their self-organising nature. From there you will be able to create a workplace culture that naturally draws from the collective wisdom of all its people and that is highly adaptable to the changing winds of a complex world.
For more information about Mike visit www.mikeschwarzer.com.