Notice - Really Notice - What You Notice
I was compelled today to get out my second-favorite gadget, a little notebook I carry around with me to record random observations, quotes, stories or ideas that grab my attention. Steve Farber calls this a WUP - short for Wake-Up Pad. In his book The Radical Edge Steve devotes an entire section at the back of the book to helping us set up our WUP. The first part is to Scan and Eavesdrop. Some ideas for this step are to skim the bestseller lists, magazine racks, television listings, watch the trends in technology - be an anthropologist. Scan like a computer scanner would do - without judgment. I call this noticing what you notice.
Steve goes on to tell us to really listen to what people are saying - at home, at work, at the supermarket or at the coffee shop. Listen - really listen - to your customers. What are you hearing? These are the kinds of things to write in your WUP.
Once you get into the habit of writing down your observations, think about what you've observed and then talk about it with other like-minded people. Compare your notes and then do something bold - audacious - something that could change the world for the better. As Lisa Haneberg reminds us: breakthroughs happen out in the world, not in our heads.
So today I scanned and eavesdropped at Starbucks. What I heard really showed my age, I think. Three guys in their late 20s or early 30s were sitting around a table talking about business ... but what threw me was how cavalierly they were throwing around the F-word (yes, that F-word). It was being used almost exclusively as an adjective, from what I gathered after my ears got more accustomed to it. In my day that was a vulgar word, or was used by people who were angry or crude or nasty or (insert judgment here).
What I noticed, after I got over my initial reaction, was that the word was not being used in a negative way, it was just being peppered into their conversation about some investments they were working on involving some rental properties. What I noticed was 1) my reaction to that one word and 2) their comfort and ease with using that word.
For me this was a reminder of my biases and judgments and how they really can cloud my own opportunity to see the substance behind or beyond my initial reaction. The times, they are a-changing and I can resist, insist, or persist in my judgment ... or I can accept and allow - and even learn something. What I saw after I allowed myself to listen was a very intelligent (and confident) conversation among a group of colleagues who were working a business deal.
How often might we let our biases get in the way of really being present to the learning that is available to us every single day? What are we not hearing because we're deafened by our perceptions? And where did we get the idea that the way we perceive something is the only way it can or should be perceived?
Drop your guard and just listen to a conversation around you without the filters from your own perception or your own past. What is available from this new vantage point?