It’s easy to judge. To feel certain. Smug even. But all that can be wiped away in a moment when the full picture comes into view. In the trainings I provide to collaborative professionals, I show a video of a little girl carefully butchering her hair with scissors. It’s the kind of nightmare many parents have experienced. You know she’s in for a world of hurt when her parents arrive! But her parents do arrive, along with the little girl’s big sister. Surprised, the big sister leans down, takes off a baseball cap, and reveals her own completely bald head. She hugs her little sister who tried so valiantly to make the fight against cancer a shared one. Turns out the little girl had already been in a world of hurt.
It is wise to regularly check our assumption that we have the whole story when we feel the urge to judge or categorize someone else. I was reminded of that again yesterday at Art Prize, a different sort of art event, which marries artists with numerous stores, restaurants and art galleries spread around the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Over the course of several weeks, the public views the art and votes on who should receive the $200,000 first prize. One of my favorites, viewed up close, resembled simply a mass of circles. But as I took a step back from the piece, I thought I could see a face in there. My imagination? So I stepped back even further and it clearly was the face of a woman wearing dark glasses. But with my limited view up close, I just couldn’t see it.
We can sometimes be so close to a conflict that we simply cannot see the whole picture. Time, distance and avoiding certitude that the obvious explanation (to us) is the only explanation, places us in a better position to view the whole picture. To have the whole story. And isn’t that the place from which we want to form our opinions? Make decisions?
Can you remember a time when new information changed your perspective? When you slapped your forehead and thought, “Wow, that changes everything”? Comment here and share it with others.
Wishing you wisdom,