How exasperating it is to see how a person is "gone," lost to a limited world they consider reality.
Ken is a great coworker. He's productive, intelligent and hard-working. But I see him over and over again, shooting himself in the foot with a lack of trust that permeates his world. It seems no situation or person can be trusted. Lack of trust is a constant red light that prevents him from moving forward. He views anything that ever goes wrong in business and his life as a justification for his distrustful perspective.
Everybody who deals with Ken sees how his lack of trust compromises his success. He's blown numerous deals as a result. Many people have tried to talk with him about his trust issues, but he is headstrong in his worldview. He's just "gone."
Every world is self-justifying.
We each live in our own self-justifying world. Everything we experience is viewed from a perspective that validates the belief system of that world. If, for one minute, we could take a step out of our world and view it from another perspective, we would have a lifetime of learning. Being open to catching insights and glimpses that free us from the confines of our limited world is the key to success in life and business.
It's a lot easier to see the nature of other people's worlds than it is to understand our own. We're simply so conditioned and identified with our own belief system that we're lost to it. It's almost like we're in a trance from which we can't wake up. It's what we consider our "truth."
Trying to help other people see beyond their world can be terribly frustrating. An extreme example is when a coworker, friend or loved one is hopelessly addicted to drugs. There can be absolutely no getting through to them. It is as if they are completely "gone," lost to a destructive realm from which they are unwilling and unable to return. However, there are uncountable ways to be "gone" in business which makes determining who's gone and who's not more challenging. What does “gone” really mean? It means not connected to reality; closed minded; biased; or narrow minded, yet convinced they're right.
In business, we can lose ourselves to a world or perspective on how business works and what we must do to be successful. This can include beliefs involving trust of prospective business associates, coworkers or clients. It can include beliefs about how the industry functions, how to manage finances, co-workers, employees, long term goals, short term goals -- really anything. Needless to say, it is limiting to be identified with a world we can't see beyond. When that happens, viable opportunities are rejected while unproductive or even destructive options are embraced.
So how do we go about transforming our world and expanding our vision? Listening with openness and humility is the key. Good advice is everywhere, but only the wise know it when they hear it.
Give and receive feedback.
Generally, most of our associates and friends can easily see where we are limited. They may even drop little hints. But it's often too uncomfortable and awkward for them to push the point. They fear the relationship will be compromised. They find it too hard to say something that might be misunderstood. More often than not, any suggestions are rejected and elicit judgment, dislike or at the very least, distance.
Keeping the delicacy of such interactions in mind is essential when we talk to another about their own limitations. It has to be said sincerely, humbly and respectfully. We have to keep in mind that we are treading on fragile ground. It's usually not a matter of convincing, but of planting a seed for the other person to reflect upon.
When it comes to expanding our own horizons, we do well to keep our antennas up, listening for subtle suggestions that people may offer in hopes we will respond favorably and alter our viewpoint. It's good to ask other people what they think. Get perspectives while not responding with a knee jerk reaction. If a suggestion seems completely off base, we don't blindly go with it. We discern. However, if multiple people keep offering the same suggestion, we do well to consider that we're "gone" -- lost to an identity we can't see beyond.
Be open to transforming our worldview.
Nevertheless, in business we also need to be steadfast, focused and determined. It's a delicate balance. We can't lose our way to other's suggestions and perspectives, but we concurrently must be open to transforming our world. We must be willing to listen, be open, and decide if there is any truth in what others are saying. We can't do that unless we are open and humble.
We do well to keep in mind that everybody, including us, is 'gone' to some degree. In fact there's no such thing as 20/20 perfect vision in business or in life. At the same time, the natural tendency is to look for stability, that totally valid perspective and cling to it as if it's a solid post in a turbulent ocean, churning with perspectives and world views. That post does not exist. Living and operating business accordingly with that awareness keeps us humble and open to deeper insights and understandings.
The notion of being lost to our world is not a concept to be heard, understood and then forgotten. It's a tool that we keep in mind and use to evolve our behavior and our thinking. Everyone benefits when we vigilantly pursue finding the limitations of our world and dedicate ourselves to transforming that world. This self-honest, action-oriented approach is an important key to success in business.