In an insightful scene from one of my favorite movies, Overboard, the butler offers some sound advice to the rich heiress. He explains that most of us walk through life with blinders on, knowing only one station in life — the one in which we were born. This is the lens we often look at life through. What we see matters. It is shaped by our experiences, beliefs, personality and expectations. It is the lens of who we are that shapes how we perceive reality.
If the center is reality and truth, then the unfortunate events of this year have shed light on both racial and social injustice and our off-centered perceptions. This led to a great deal of introspection and evaluation of how we see things, how we view circumstances and how we look at one another. Organizations began to gauge where they fell on the diversity, equity and inclusion spectrum and formulated their plan of action. Data-driven pieces on the lack of diversity in any given industry, with step-by-step guidelines, assisted in those efforts. These were all admirable starting points to help us get there and check the box. But, if we are intent on staying there, it is important to see things as they are, not as we are.
What we see matters
There is a difference between reality and our perception of reality. Because our perception of reality is defined by several factors, this is often difficult to overcome. Having diverse teams can help bring us back to the center of reality. Effective communication from different perspectives can bring balance.
Ask others what they see
The outlook of employees and clients can prove to be invaluable. New employees can offer a unique vantage point not yet influenced by work silos. Clients are often in close contact and can offer thought without fear of reprisal. When asking, we should consider there is some truth to the response. It is often comfortable to defend what we see.
This past summer has exposed what happens when destructive behavior goes unchecked. It is expedient to do the work now, to strike while the iron is hot, but we must remain vigilant. Vigilance requires careful watch, constant monitoring and reevaluation. While the path to the center where truth lies may be formidable, diverse perspectives give us an opportunity to draw closer to seeing things as they really are.