It’s Not What You Look at that Matters; It’s What You See

It’s Not What You Look at that Matters; It’s What You See

“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.” — Henry David Thoreau

Perception is more than the use of your eyes. On any given day and in any given context, we proceed through the motions, using our eyes to view the world around us.

Was that person in line first? Was that bill in the mail addressed to me? Our perceptual functions engage our cognitive functions, allowing us to operate in a normal and repeatable way.

And yet, our routine deadens our senses. The more usual the environment, the less we really see it.

A Dangerous Drive

Consider this concept. Most accidents happen within a couple of miles from your home. The reason, many suggest, surrounds the predictability of the environment. We drive on autopilot when the surroundings are familiar. Any small change that might suggest danger if our perception is better triggered remains on the periphery. The driver looks, but does the driver actually see?

The same principle applies to our work. The more normal the routine and interactions in your business, the more likely you’ll discover that you are missing the key insights under the surface.

At Work on Autopilot

You drive around on autopilot during your work and before you know it, you’ve missed a key strategic shift you could have leveraged before your competitors.

Outside of strategic and operational choices, the autopilot mentality may blind you to the assets that surround you. The critical team member might be struggling in ways your autopilot does not allow you to see.

So how can you shock the system? How can you transform from the looker to the seer?

For starters, seeing often means observations around the periphery. The daily routines might be the same, but what are those small aspects that are shifting in the cultural wind that require a quick decision to stay ahead?

Seeing also means comprehending the things left unsaid. If a customer continues to praise one aspect of your offering, what does that say about the other aspects she doesn’t mention? This constant questioning and the desire to observe deeply in the moment is required if you want to move from looking to seeing.

So today, choose to see what is going on around you. It’s time to turn off autopilot.

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