Living in an area with mature trees is a real pleasure, especially during the hot days of summer. Look at the palm trees in the picture. They are over 60 feet tall. Notice the ivy climbing all the way to the top? That is pretty unusual. Is it a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, It depends on how you look at it…
On our dog walk tour, it made us stop and notice. It really looked cool, almost magical. The ivy skirt drew our eyes up to the palm crowns and the swirling clouds. On the other hand, as a homeowner who had rats in my palm trees, my second thought was ivy + palm trees = rats. Let me disclose that I think rats are a bad thing to have around. My enjoyment of the visual elements was over taken by my concern for consequences. I no longer enjoyed what I saw. However, there might not actually be rats in those trees. And, they are not my trees. And, it was blocks from my house so I didn’t have to worry about those rats invading my space. The magic returned.
How often does this happen in business? Our previous experience colors our perceptions such that we can’t appreciate what might be an opportunity, or a different approach to a project, a new product, or a new way to deliver our service?
I find that the more immediate and definite my reaction, the more I have to slow down and examine where my reaction comes from. What am I afraid of? Am I reacting to a previous event that may not matter in this situation? Until I examine the origin of my reaction, it is hard for me to change or to move on from my judgement. Maybe this happens to you, too.
Great leadership requires the ability to encourage and take in opinions that may be different from yours and to examine whether your reactions come from fear, or previous experiences that may not serve you in the moment. This is heavy lifting. Start with something simple like the palm trees.