Do You Really See Me?

by Jo Anne Nelson on February 8, 2010

I am often amazed by what people don’t notice. A few weeks ago I cut my hair from very long, halfway down my back, to jaw length. A pretty drastic change. I have run into people who know me and knew what my hair looked like long, and some of them don’t notice.

I know it’s not an unusual occurrence. I’ve spoken to men who have shaved off their beard and/or mustache and people didn’t notice the difference. How is this possible? How can something be right under our nose, so to speak, and we aren’t aware of it?

Because of the way our brains work, we notice the things we notice. We are ‘blind where we are blind.’ This skill evolved to give us optimal performance when noticing the right things would save our lives. If we paid attention to everything, we’d be completely overwhelmed and rather non-functional. So it serves a good purpose. But how does our brain choose which things to pay attention to, and which to ignore?

There is a huge amount of science behind this, but the big question is what are we missing that could have a positive impact on our lives? What can we do to help us open our eyes?

More importantly, when we are leading and managing our businesses, work, relationships, how does this impact us? What are we missing? What is right before our eyes that we aren’t seeing?

If we want to achieve optimal performance, as an individual, team or organization, we need to develop awareness of what we are missing. There are many practices we can use, but for individuals one of the most simple and sometimes challenging is to take time to get quiet and sit and observe. When we can do this without becoming distracted by everything that is on our plates, we are often surprised by what we see.

Try it. Let us know what you see.

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