One of the biggest threats to working effectively with others is being overly invested in your version of the “truth.” Have you ever judged a person or situation too quickly or acted prematurely—only to find out later that your original opinion was incomplete or incorrect? It happens to all of us. Because we’re human (and not all-knowing all of the time), our view of life can be limited. If we’re not careful, we may get stuck looking through a set of lenses that distort rather than sharpen reality.
I learned that my own vision needed correcting in the second grade when I put on my first pair of glasses. I was shocked to find that the big green blobs around the trees in my neighborhood were full of individual leaves. Details that had gone unnoticed were suddenly visible (like the answers to the math problems on the chalkboard). My entire world took on a vibrant clarity—and a new sense of possibility. Up until then, I had no idea what I was missing. Everything looked as it should. It took a new pair of glasses to see just how much I hadn’t noticed.
The “glasses” we choose to wear each day are the paradigms or foundational beliefs through which we see ourselves and everything around us. And what we see informs what we think and feel—which has a direct impact on what we do and what we get. If we’re too invested in our point of view, we may miss seeing the true potential in ourselves or others—stunting growth. We may shut down ideas before they have a change to thrive, or miss an opportunity that’s right in front of us. Dr. Stephen R. Covey said, “If you want to make minor changes in your life, work on your behavior. If you want significant, quantum breakthroughs, work on your paradigms.”
Anything you want to improve (strengthening a relationship, advancing in your career, finding an innovative solution to a problem), requires that we first identify any limitations in the lenses we are currently wearing and swap them out for lenses that are more helpful. Try the following prescription to identify a limiting belief you may have so that you can wear glasses that work.
- Identify a challenging relationship or situation.
- List the reasons you think it’s not working.
- Identify which reasons are facts—things to which most people would objectively agree.
- Any remaining reasons are beliefs that may be incomplete or limiting.
- Ask yourself: Is there a different way of seeing the person or situation? Which beliefs—that I formerly saw as facts—might I change? What be the impact if I changed them and put on a new pair of glasses?
- Pick a new, more complete belief, and identify which actions you’ll take based on wearing glasses that work.