A bunch of things happened recently that made me believe more in the observation of … people observe the SAME things but think, react, and feel DIFFERENTLY. And acting differently manifests in different opinions, emotions, and behaviors. So I think part of the reason why some people think that the glass of milk is half full and others half empty, is because that’s what they want to see. What are things that constantly bugs you in the world or consistently makes you feel crappy? Perhaps it’s the way you are seeing the situation and you might have an opportunity to start practicing another intepretation that makes you feel better. So let me share what I’ve been noticing.

People observe same things but think, react, and feel differently. I was in a meeting the other day and presented the data around average start-up costs for a business. It’s roughly $6K for an individual and $20K for a group of people. Steven, a vice president of strategy, interpreted those numbers as pretty high, considering that most people have a hard time saving money and instead are constantly living paycheck to paycheck. Brad, a senior vice president, interpreted those numbers to be really low, that it only takes some pocket change to start a business? The only way for us to find the right interpretation was to ask the real judge, people starting small businesses. To them, this amount money is a lot.

Expert sources. both Tony Robbins and a guru-coach by the name of James Flaherty believe that this a key input to helping people improve. But they explained it in slightly different ways. Tony explains these principles in terms of meaning. What are your definitions of life, relationships, or your own identity? If you believe that humans are creatures of consistency, then humans will do what it takes to make those definitions come alive for themselves. So if you see life as a challenge, you will probably seek out challenges. If you see life as sustaining deep relationships, you will probably spend lots of time nurturing the closest people in your life. So if you hit a wall in life, Tony recommends changing a definition or meaning that isn’t working for you anymore. James uses the word interpretation instead where coaches need to be aware of the different interpretations that a client has to things. To see which interpretations are like roadblocks, keeping clients from their goals.

An example I’ve noticed. Now that I’m finishing up the 2 year rotational program, we’ve been given a list of potential full-time jobs that we could seek. At first glance, the list was pretty shabby for my interests … loosely jobs with more forward-thinking, tackling brand new problems, and in a environment that is very adaptable and light on its feet. There was only 1 of these jobs. For a week or so, I was a bit troubled that there was only one and that it somewhat lacked the people development stuff that I’ve been eager to spend more time in. This was my interpretation of the list and the options I’ve had.

During week two, I felt much more uneasy. Some recommended that I take some time off to explore the people development avenue, whereas some recommended that this one job could give you some competencies that would be helpful in coaching … especially since it an environment with lots of change (people tend to stress in change), responsibility, and uncertainty. So day by day, my opinion would waiver and I’d tell people very different things from one hour to the next!

Fortunately, I thought about this stuff and realized that my interpretation of what’s been going on was stressing me out. Taking a step back, I realized a few things that put me to ease:

  • I’m lucky to have a lot of caring people around me to help me through these decisions
  • I have good options … there is a job that is a potentially a good candidate for me and a good backup option, taking leave, that I would look forward to as well.
  • So what’s the worst thing that could happen? nothing really…
  • I’m fortunate to know what I want to be doing in the future … directionally. This way, with either of these options, my attention in that job or during leave would be around this direction.
  • Got some money in the bank so that I could cruise for a bit … but not forever.

So as a result, changing my intepretation, put me to ease. I’ve been able to enjoy my days much better — without this stuff on the back of my mind. I feel less stressed about a decision where I have really good options — no need to stress so much. So yes, you could call this brainwashing yourself or giving yourself more perspective with a hint of optimism.