Recently, I was setting up my equipment for a seminar at a hotel in Cincinnati.  The audio/visual guy for the hotel was assisting me with sound checks and I mentioned that I thought the conference center had a nice view.  We were at the top floor of a medium-sized hotel and from the room, you could see the city and the horizon off in the distance.

It happened to be early in the morning so the sun had just recently risen over the horizon. It was indeed a nice view.

After my comment about the view, the tech guy said, “I suppose it is a nice view if you don’t mind looking at storage facilities and run down buildings.” With surprise, I said, “Really, where do you see that?”  Sure enough, he pointed out the window to an area that had some older buildings and a storage facility with bright orange paint decorating their facilities.

I didn’t even see them before.  Of course, just because they were there, they didn’t ruin the otherwise impressive view.

Later on, I was thinking about how two people with the same view can have such different perspectives.  Clearly it was the same view.

Was it a good one or not?

While beauty is in the eye of the holder, there was something more here that I thought was important. We’ve all heard the phrase,

“What you see is what you get.” While this can be true, I’m not sure it is as true as often as we think.

In life, we don’t really see the world as it is, but rather as we are. We both saw the same scene; the only difference was the observer.  It is what we choose to focus on that makes the difference.  What we focus on depends on what is important to us and our state of mind and body. Doesn’t the world appear different when you’re sick compared to when you’re healthy?

Sometimes, you don’t see what you get, you get what you see.  And that’s a good thing. That puts you in control.

No one can control the direction of your focus and how you interpret the events around you except you. When chaos develops, your focus and your mindset determine how you handle the challenge. Before you can practice being calm in the middle of a storm, you need to practice controlling your focus and your perspective even when there is a light rain.

Your first step to practicing is to notice how the frame of reference of others affects them and their actions. Once we see it outside of ourselves, then we can easily begin to see it in ourselves and begin to control it. Good luck and have fun. You’re in control.


John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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