Have you ever participated in a game or exercise where a group of people get to view a picture for several minutes, then write down everything they recall? Sometimes the responses vary so much they may be quite a topic of conversation. They can, however, give some insights into the interests and perspectives the participants have. While they all witness the very same image, what they see may likely have many interpretations.
In any situation, person, place, or thing we encounter, there is always the potential for the experience to be understood as positive, negative, or neutral. What makes the difference in the interpretation, of course, is our perception of what occurred. Our culture, history, heritage, values, relationships, and work ethics may affect what we see, and what is truly present when we take another look. In a group setting, this can merely entertain, or it may be a window into our insights on one side, or biases on the other. In a one-on-one encounter, this can lead to strong opinions and a heated debate, if neither party is willing to concede that the perceptions may be so disparate.
How well does our “interpretation” match what seemingly truly happened? What is the possibility of altering it, if necessary, especially after some focused dialogue? When we are willing to accept that there are other ways to see, we gain awareness and understanding of the other person's world view. Is that not at the heart of any relationship, and, for our purposes, at the core of coaching? I believe we are called to gain insight into the client's interpretations, so that we may know what questions to ask to invite the person to get to a refined concept, deeper level, a better view, a greater awareness.
In the aging process, vision usually changes for the worse. In the coaching experience, my goal is for “vision” to change for the better. I truly want the client to succeed, to be able to live a more peaceful life. By actively listening, gently probing, refining, and asking more, I invite the client to “change the lens” for sharper viewing, whether it is by internal means, or by making better use of the available resources in people, or by using any tools that may achieve the goal. Sometimes, it is only a matter of fine tuning, while others need extended time to make the connections. No matter how long it takes, the overall desired result is the client's contentment, and the ability to take another step on the journey. In this, I recall the words I use also for myself: “New vision is the path to clarity.”
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