Blinded by Sight

elephant rd bwRecently I have undergone Lasik surgery to “enhance” my vision.  I’m very happy with the result, although there were some adjustments that had to be made.  Sight has always been an important sense to me.  As someone who trained as an graphic artist and photographer, as a writer, and in the things I enjoy doing, my sight is invaluable to me.  I also can appreciate the loss of sight.  I was a counselor for over 20 years and also served on the Board of Trustees for Camp Leo of Hilton Head, a week-long experience for legally blind youth.  One of my daughters has had a number of surgeries to correct her vision.  And up until a few months ago, I couldn’t really even get out of bed in the morning without groping around for my glasses.

Our approach to life is dependent upon “sight” as it were.  Consider the story of the blind men who encountered an elephant for the first time.  One, reaching around the elephant’s enormous leg, thought him a tree.  Another, touching the tail, thought him a vine. Walking into the animal’s considerable flank, another thought the elephant was a boulder. And of course, the trunk was thought to be a hose and the ear, a large leaf.  Nobody was wrong in their assessment of the elephant.  They simply had limited information to go by, and having experienced certain other inputs in their lives, related what they found to those items.  Furthermore, not having all the parts of information, the blind men could only go by what they had in their reach to process.

We each approach change with the same limited perspective.  Not having all the facts, we form conclusions based on experience, or worse, on what someone else tells us is experience and is not always based in fact.  In any case though, it is very much like walking up to that elephant from whichever trajectory we happened to be on at the time: approaching from the front we found the hose; from the side, a boulder; and so on.  We can only know what we know, and we do not know what we do not know.  What seems to us to be the whole picture is limited by where we happen to enter the scene.

I do not accept fate as my master.  I drive my own destiny and I approach change in a similar manner.  My oldest daughter has a problem familiar to many of you, I’m sure.  She is a perfectionist (to an extent).  When she is playing the piano, or dancing, or drawing- when she “makes a mistake”, it is the end of the lesson. She would throw up her hands in frustration and for a while, she would give up.  I know a lot of people like that, who, when faced with a challenge, just say, “This won’t work” and walk away, expecting someone else to fix the problem.  I have coached her with a degree of success that mistakes are really what you make of them.  I have said on this blog before that a virtuoso doesn’t make a mistake; they make an adjustment.  When we are faced with hurdles, leaders don’t throw up their hands and go home, although sometimes that seems like the sane thing to do.  We study the situation, we gather more facts, we throw ourselves against it, we push or pull on it, but whatever it is, we do something.  We continue to take action.

When we find ourselves faced with the prospect of change, we can control it, or we can let it control us. If you choose to let it carry you away, that is your choice.  Sometimes, again, depending on perspective, that is a perfectly acceptable choice.  Sometimes it is not.  When asked “what is the best choice for me?” the answer is really always, “It depends.”  We can make the best out of what we have in front of us and we can be positive.  These are conscious choices.  We can accept that everything changes, like it or not.  The Grand Canyon was just a minor water leak at some point in its history.

If we go through life thinking that everyone else has our answers and our solutions, we are simply permitting ourselves to be swept away in the current.  That isn’t leading, that is submitting.  Again, that is a choice you can make, but if it is, you made the choice and you have to live (or die) with that choice.  The resources that were given to you- experience, knowledge, skill – can be leveraged to make your condition better, or you can bemoan your fate and let life take you where it may.  Whatever that decision, it is your choice as to the perspective you take.  You can submit to the case that you have in your hand only a vine, or you can explore and find you have a magnificent and beautiful beast.  Open your eyes and make change work for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *