Have you seen those pictures where depending on your perspective, you will see something different; an old man or a young woman; a frog or a horse? I saw one a few days ago and it reminded me of the importance of perspective. It also reminded me of one of my workshops.
A participant, after three sessions with horses, reflected on the interaction with horse 1, 2 and 3, how different the sessions and the horses had been. Afterwards I pointed out that horse ‘2’ and ‘3’ were the same horse. That led to amazement and a dialogue about how the person had been different going in to work with the horses, and how that plays out in our life and work. How who we are being invites a response, and how our perspective on the situation shapes who we are being. And how our perspective is full of assumptions. In the workshop we had a good giggle about this mix up; it can be funny when our assumptions are proved not quite correct.
This morning I had a blog ready, I thought it needed some refining, it wasn’t quite me, yet it was almost there. Then I read a blog by my friend and co-inspirator, Aldona, referring to a conversation we had had about finding our voice, about writing what we believe rather than what we assume people want to hear, and something began to stir. The blog I had written wasn’t my voice, it wasn't written as I wrote this website. There were some interesting points in it; a story about the risks of assumptions in business, references to others writing about assumptions, and it wasn’t what I wanted to write.
It took me two hours of rewriting to realize I’d fallen again for the assumption I’d had when I wrote the first copy for my website. I was trying to write what I assumed people would like to read. And if there is one thing I cannot do well, it is that. I can only write, if I write from what I believe, from my heart, from my soul. In fact I tend to say that I write what is there to be written. That’s how my poetry works; I write what is in the field, what needs to be spoken. In the end, once I let go of assumptions about expectations, that’s what happened with my website copy, it wrote itself. It happened to be my fingers on the keyboard.
But here and now I was in the grip of an assumption, one that wasn’t very helpful. So I did the only thing that I have found helpful, I looked it in the face with compassion and humour. Compassion, reminded me that it is not strange ‘to worry about being different’, ‘to want to fit in’, ‘to worry about how to pay the bills if I am me’. It isn’t strange to be “trembling” in this new stage, as another friend speaks of so beautifully in her blog today. The humour, as Chris Bliss points out in his insightful ‘Ted talk’, helps “to circumvent our ingrained perspectives” – even when that perspective is that we shouldn’t have such an ingrained perspective. It makes me laugh at my attempts to rewrite this and my looking for the perfect blog, my first at that. It also reminds me that some people won’t like it and they probably wouldn’t want to be clients either, or perhaps they do.
And I laugh at myself as I realize that this is my work, our work as human beings. In becoming present to who we are and in moving where we are called to move, I believe we need to face our perspective and the reality we are creating from that perspective. That’s not a one time job, a ‘I’ve looked at my assumptions and now I am ok thing’, it is a lifelong process. What is important is that we are willing to take perspective on our perspective, to look it in the eye, to really meet it, with compassion and humour if we can. That’s the work of leadership.