Visionmakers are committed to the expansion of their own vision. As a result of this commitment, they remain vigilant to three other conditions that threaten 20:20 sight: skilled unawareness, fixed perspectives, and denial. (Please refer to The Obstructions of Vision category to see past entries on this topic.)
Skilled unawareness is a term coined by Chris Argyris, a pioneer of organizational learning. Argyris argues that blind spots, gaps and inconsistencies are designed behaviors. He suggests that “human beings have designs that keep them unaware of their errors and they are unaware of these designs.” One such design is the ability to replicate these behaviors expertly, and without consciously having to think about them. Defensiveness keeps these designs hidden and operational.
Visionmakers seek to interrupt skilled unawareness by being open to coaching. Working with someone who can assist in making the invisible visible is one means of dismantling such an insidious pattern.
Fixed perspectives also limit vision because the will becomes engaged behind a singular viewpoint, blinding us to anything other than what we wish to see. Fixed perspectives are held in place by the need to be right and to win. Thus, we have given up a commitment to see in order to dominate others, hardly the commitment of a Visionmaker.
Often, we only become aware of fixed perspectives when we are in conflict with the point of view of others or when we are trying to control situations and people’s thoughts, behavior, actions and reactions. Of course, we all suffer from the tyranny of our own certainties, so everyone has work to do on this obstruction to avoid becoming self-righteous control freaks.
Visionmakers attempt to mature vision by broadening their perspectives. One practice in support of this is hosting different points of view. This is a commitment to curiosity rather protecting a position. Curiosity is the vehicle by which we enter someone’s world to explore the unfamiliar and understand how they construct their point of view. We rarely see this practiced in today’s world, where it has become a blood sport to deconstruct the views of others. This deconstruction usually comes with some form of ridicule, sarcasm and derision. Any political panel discussion on television is sufficient example of the practice.
We don’t necessarily have to relinquish our own perspectives as we seek to broaden vision, but quite often, seeking more information and understanding about how others view the world softens our righteousness and expands what we are able to see and learn.
Denial is a third obstruction to seeing. It is a sophisticated psychological defense mechanism that kicks in when the facts become so uncomfortable that they cannot be accepted and are rejected rather than examined.
Most often this rejection comes in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Denial may be total, partial as a way to minimize the evidence, or the person involved may claim no responsibility in the matter at hand as a means of dismissing it. In this pattern, we often deny facts, responsibility, the impact of our words and actions, and when pushed against the wall, deny that we are in denial.
Denial is a form of self-deception. It can be produced by stress, conflict, painful thoughts, and threatening situations.
This pattern behavior signals to Visionmakers that there is work to do. Strengthening can be accomplished through the recovery of the strong heart, where courage resides. Unresolved issues based in the past must be brought to closure and fears must be faced in order to interrupt denial. These all cause denial.
Tough work to break the obstructions to vision, but necessary if we are to expand our vision beyond fear.
©Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.
© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.