What's Your Favorite Lens?
Are you evolving into your future, or fixated on an imaginary past?
I am always fascinated by how our experiences mold and guide us. How do we choose to see our world? Does that choice determine how the world sees us?
This past week, I came across a tweet by someone I once admired. It howled about Nazis and Facist and other “right wing” groups. I have to admit I can not understand left or right or many other political distinctions any more. So I went on a quest for information.
What I found was an interesting video (you can watch it here) that defined groups not in political terms but in terms of how much power they sought in a governing model:
Now this made sense to me. Anarchy (no government) on one end of this spectrum and total government on the other. Forget left/right pseudo politics. Just consider the spectrum of government control.
I am tempted to respond on Twitter to my once idolized professor but I am not about to stir a hornet’s nest to no avail. I will simply by-pass him as a potential guest.
My podcast is about the human condition and how our experiences open new ways to seeing the world. The only rule is no politics. I look for what people experience and how they use traits like courage, perseverance, and authenticity (and more) to navigate their bumps in the road. Inevitably (and interestingly) what emerges in each story is a pivotal experience that shifts my guests’ perspective and opens their world to greater wisdom.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
Our thoughts matter. They define our perspective, our reactions and our future. What we tell ourselves becomes our self fulfilling prophecy.
I bring this up because I had a disturbing conversation with another potential guest for my podcast. She is smart and accomplished. She has had a financially successful career that has allowed her to leave her corporate job for a wonderful entrepreneurial opportunity. She’s living an interesting life. And she’s doing good things to help other women. Perhaps she would be a candidate for my next book on Strong Women?
So we zoomed. And what I found shook me up. The rage and the anger of this person was not what I expected. She insisted she was downtrodden, discriminated against and not given a fair chance. I tried to build bridges by sharing my own experience of being a woman in a man’s world. My bridges had no merit to her. I was, apparently, racist due to my very existence. From her view, there could be no common ground.
This woman viewed her world through a lens of race that she had molded, nurtured and shaped. It didn’t include her significant accomplishments. It didn’t give a nod to her considerable strengths and abilities. It utterly overlooked her own humanity. Her particular lens eclipsed all the good she had created in her life, to see only a world pitted against her. And today, I was on the receiving end of her perspective.
I tend to be a bit sensitive, although I’ve learned not to take things personally. But the barrage of attacks by someone I didn’t know (and who didn’t know me!) was pretty remarkable, particularly at an introductory meeting. How sad, I thought. How sad not to celebrate one’s higher self. How sad to be so filled with hate towards people you don’t even know.
This is not to say that racism, sexism, name your -ism doesn’t exist. It does. But it comes down to what you do with the opportunity before you. What special strengths can you run with? How do you define your own personal success? Is your definition internal or is it based on something external such as a job title or annual income? The lens you choose is always a personal choice and it will determine how you relate to yourself and to the world.
What do you see in the photos below? Do you see an ascending or descending staircase? What draws you in? Do you react to washed out tones or vibrant color? Warm or cool? Old or new? Mystery or curiosity? Discovery or dread? What’s your lens? Where do you want to play?
From the comments on Twitter to that conversation with my potential guest, I wonder where the world is heading. I look at the photos above and I prefer to see them as a climbing spiral of steps forward with something old, something new, a bit of darkness, a bit of light, all wrapped in good energy. The ambiguity of it all screams choice and possibility. I’m trying really hard to make that my imperfect lens. What’s yours?