Working With Others – Finding The Right Lens

Five suggestions to consider
Savannah’s Pandora – Faceless in the face of what’s to come – hope!

Perhaps, the hardest thing to do is change your thoughts or beliefs regarding a certain situation, event, philosphy, person (family, friends, acquaintances, enemies and frenemies) or work.

“We tend to put people and their circumstances in boxes 📦”

Or, it’s how our brain copes with the myriad of things that go on each day.

As a team of researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum in a study reported in Science Daily, by using a box, or pigeonholing, less thought is required – we automatically say to ourselves “that’s how they are,” or “I didn’t expect it to be any other way.” The narrative can move on without giving much further thought.

In film or drama, we call such fixed narratives a trope – a familiar pattern or storyline that repeats itself over and over again. Some of us like this sense of familiarity and some of us don’t.

Adjusting Your Lens

What lies ahead? Who are my students for the next two days and will I learn something from them?

Kfangurl talks regularly about adjusting your lens to appreciate a particular drama, film or story. And like her observation, sometimes you need to do this in order to adjust your view so that you will achieve a better outcome or experience.

Adjusting ones lens means, therefore, having an open mind or banishing the tropes from our lives.

I can hear you weeping and wailing now – gnashing you’re teeth even:

Question: “Why do I need to embrace that person, team, organisation or situation?”

Answer: because you never know what real gem lies underneath.

The Key To An Open Mind

My talented and excellent students last week!

In the two day training program I conducted last week regarding the constitution, the legal context and local government, I worked with a CEO, director, lawyer, manager and executive assistant – all from different organisations. They wanted to see if they could challenge the status quo regarding their understanding and thinking of the complex environment they work in.

In other words, was there something they didn’t know or perhaps would need from my course to help improve their knowledge and skills regarding their industry and the challenges that lay ahead in an immersive, layered and complex environment?

As I pointed out to my talented group a number of times, at the end of the day I can only make suggestions regarding how they can go about certain work, interactions or tasks. I know what works for me. They, on the other hand, need to figure out what works for them based on the knowledge, skills and experience I share with them. However, one thing I do know though is this, and as I have mentioned in previous posts, it’s always up to you to adjust to a given situation. The other person won’t adjust their lens or opinions, just because you say it is a good idea for them to do so!

Photo by Jack Sparrow on

The key to an open mind or adjusting your lens involves exploring and undertaking the following five tips:

  • Listen first! By listening first instead of trying to dominate the conversation we are then in a position to ask sensible questions or make worthwhile suggestions. In my part of the world, people who try to dominate a meeting are referred to as noisy scrub birds. Even as a CEO I listened first, asked questions later, and then provided input, if required;
  • Carry Out Due diligence. Always use current and correct information and data. Old data, although useful in some instances, will embarrass you and continue to skew your view. There is nothing worse than someone pointing out to you during a presentation or at a meeting (or even on-line!) that there is more up to date information available. Back in the day, during a meeting with a government minister and the heads of a particular department to discuss an emerging issue in my local government district, I was the one that ended up providing the up-to-date information! It should have been the other way around. So, that’s a long winded way of saying: choose wisely!
  • Always learn. Ongoing learning is important. You do learn things every day. And you are never, ever, too old to learn something new. When do you apply your new learning? Well, at a time that is suitable. Sometimes you can implement new approaches straight away, for instance: improving time management. However, other learnings take time to implement, such as how to inspire your team or how to work out the best way to deliver and/or reinvigorate a project. There are key work practices I have discovered and then implemented 12 months later. My mentor and great friend Doug passed onto me an executive book summary once that contained a key message regarding “managing paper” – which, literally, changed my life. I got onto making the changes once I figured out a course of action – sometimes it is all about the timing;
  • Move out of your comfort zone (our own personal box). This is extremely hard to do, but challenge yourself day by day. I have always taken big leaps out of my comfort zone (e.g. conducting presentations before 400 or more people), but you might be more comfortable taking tiny steps and that’s okay;
  • Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Once you discover something new, or are in the middle of trying to find a way to do something different – take time out and reflect on what you have discovered. Even now, I get very excited over finding something new, or a new way of doing things. All the wonderful blogs I have stumbled across in recent months have been an absolute breath of fresh air. Sitting down with a cup of tea as I digest them makes my day so much better.

Once you start practicing the above, a balanced view will start to grow. Open Pandora’s Box and see the world in a more positive light by turning a perplexing situation on its head. Pandora was as much about releasing hope as releasing the ills of the world 🤗

Noisy scrub bird. Photo- Alan Danks
Image courtesy of DPAW – Photo by Alan Danks. There are less than 1,500 noisy scrub birds in existence (and so are an endangered species)

Please share below any other insights you might have in how to keep an open mind!

6 Comments on “Working With Others – Finding The Right Lens”

  1. Gasp! I never thought I’d see the day that I’d be drama-quoted on a business-leadership site! 😆 Thanks for the shout-out, Sean, and thanks for promoting the benefits of lens adjustment – a subject that is clearly close to my heart! 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kfangurl, the first time I read a post by you regarding the benefits of lens adjustment, I thought to myself how beneficial this approach would be in a variety of settings.

      So, it has allowed me to describe in a refreshing way, during training sessions for instance, how lens adjustment can be used to challenge one’s thinking. It also helps remind me to do the same.

      You write so well, and in such way that is informative and entertaining at the same time, how could I not share some of your wisdom 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a great metaphor, adjusting our lens! A pair of binoculars is useless if the focus is never adjusted. Similarly, sticking to preconceived ideas about a person may cause us to miss opportunities for collaboration or mismatch teams.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Ceri. I had a former employee ring me about a month ago to say she had just completed day two in her new job. She wanted to thank me for helping her adjust her lens three years ago regarding an incident. Since then, she has changed her approach at work and is now undertaking a great opportunity 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

  3. “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” I relate your post to this phrase. Many times we fail to cope with people because of the way we look at them.

    Liked by 1 person

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