I just, within the past five minutes, encountered a situation that left me scratching my head, but very quickly understood that the experience was meant to point out something very important to me as I work through my newest book series, the first book of which is currently available for pre-order.
You see, Get Ahead of Your Time is about teaching people to dig down to the roots of what’s truly causing them Overwhelm in their life. Digging and digging and digging and then once we reach the roots, going even deeper to get to the REAL truth of why we are in the situation we’re in that’s made us unhappy enough to ask for help.
And this thing that just happened five minutes ago has given me a new perspective I hadn’t thought of before. The Universe is always teaching us, isn’t it?
A friend of mine shared a graphic on Facebook (she’s actually a real life friend, as opposed to someone who’s friended me that I don’t actually know). I checked to ensure it was legit before I also shared it, because I found it a valuable one-page resource. The graphic was a representation of where current news sources (print, internet, TV, everything) fall on a couple of spectrums, focused mostly on liberal vs. middle-of-the-road vs. conservative, and also fact-based vs. fabricated.
Someone made a comment on my post. And it kinda made my head hurt at first because of the literal confusion it caused in my brain. Here it is:
Of course, I have blocked out that person’s identity because this is NOT about shaming, or blaming, or making fun of, or anything else negative. What it is, is a learning experience for me as a coach, trainer, mentor and author AND, I think, a good learning experience for us all!
The source of the graphic is ON the graphic. Yet the person who looked at it apparently didn’t actually study the full graphic. Given that they commented less than 10 minutes after I posted it, well, I can pretty well tell you that they didn’t actually read the whole thing. It would take longer than that to digest what’s on it even for a speed reader, never mind then going out of your way to debunk it!
What appears to have happened is that they skimmed what I shared, made an assumption that it was in no way comparable to their favorite source for this type of information and then posted their preference for source, not realizing all the while that the graphic had come from the same place they were telling me I should’ve gone to for my information!
Lots of people do this in everyday life and I can be just as guilty as anyone else. We are all moving so fast these days – unless we are consciously forcing ourselves to slow down – that we’re not always taking the time to experience everything to its fullest. Like this Facebook person, we all look at something through the lens of our own bias, experience and expectation, and sometimes respond – in public, no less – in a way that unfortunately makes it pretty clear we didn’t actually grasp the entire concept, picture, idea or situation.
I have seen this in frightening numbers, for example, from people who share articles based on the headline, touting it as the most awesome thing because it’s exactly right (per their opinion), only to click into the article myself and find out it’s not at all about what the clickbait title says. (Googling ‘clickbait,’ if you’re not familiar with the meaning, gives you this definition: “(on the Internet) content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.”) The person sees the title, agrees, hits Like & Share and never actually reads the thing. Guess what? I used to do that, too, until I found out what I was doing. Then I was embarrassed!
Perhaps that’s part of the problem. People have come to expect that what others are posting can’t possibly be the best, truest source, because they’ve seen so many people posting fake news articles or clickbaits or whatever. However, when we make an assumption, we know what that means, right? To assume only makes an ass out of u and me. Just because 99 people on your friends list share things that you don’t find factual or don’t agree with, doesn’t mean that the 100th person is doing the same thing. But of course, sussing out which tings are true or not, or which things align with your viewpoint or not, requires time. Time that people frequently don’t want to spend on fact-finding or research.
I think this is a topic that will probably spawn several separate blog posts, because it’s a very deep one that I’ll have to do some research on myself. But it’s taught me a very valuable lesson about the people I serve…those who come to me for help…and that is not to assume that I know what the person’s hamartia is. You are viewing everything through your own personal lens, through your own-colored glasses, through the filter of your life experiences, your opinions, your beliefs, your upbringing, your current situation, your sexual orientation, your marital status, your religious affiliations, your age, your sex, your EVERYTHING. Each of us is doing so.
Sitting down and telling a person who’s asked for my help fixing what’s broken in their life is only going to be as effective as I can be unbiased. In order to work with you, I have to toss everything that skews my viewpoint out the window and start from a clean slate so I can see YOU, rather than seeing you through the filter of ME. I mustn’t do what the Facebook person did, and assume I already know what makes you tick. It doesn’t help me become a better coach, and it doesn’t help you at all if I get it wrong!
It’s unfortunate when we are our own worst enemies. When our lack of attention to the little things ends with us looking foolish in front of others, we have no one but ourselves to blame for not taking stock of all the things in front of us before we speak. A friend of mine’s worst fear is embarrassing herself, so she researches the blinking heck out of everything before she says one word about it, to minimize the chances of that occurring. I used to find her rather silly in that respect, because of the amount of hours she would often put into digging into a particular subject or situation.
I now see I owe her an apology. Because in the sixteen or so years that I’ve known her, do you know how many times she’s been wrong about ANYTHING?
Looks like I still have an awful lot to learn.