Lenses Limited: Do You See What I See?

03/02/2015 06:45 pm ET | Updated May 02, 2015

Imagine a world
in which everyone is issued
a pair of glasses at birth.


No one thinks anything about it --
it's absolutely normal.

These glasses all appear to be the same,
so people assume they are.

They assume that the world they see
through their own lenses
is the same world that everyone else sees.

But alas,
everyone's glasses are not the same.
They are each just a little bit different
from one another.

For instance,
perhaps through my lenses
I can see only certain colors --
red, green, purple, white and gold --
but not black or blue.

Through your lenses you can see
blue, black, purple, red, and green --
but not white or gold.

Depending on what we're looking at,
we might see something quite different
from each other --
even though we're looking
at the same object or situation.

Since I can see white and gold,
but not black and blue,
I will describe things one way.

Since you can see black and blue,
but not white and gold,
you will describe things another way.

And then we argue about who is correct.


We get upset because
we each know that we're right --
and we can't understand
why the other person
doesn't see it the way we do.

It's all because of those darn glasses ...


What can we do to keep our glasses
from becoming blinders?

We can share ...
"This is what I see through my lenses."

We can ask ...
"How does it look through your lenses?"

We can strive to understand ...
"Tell me more."

We can listen and learn,
discuss and discover,
explore and explain.

We can look for common ground
and still appreciate uncommon differences.

Let's not let our lenses limit our lives.

(Photos by Peacock Productions. Used with permission.)

BJ Gallagher is a sociologist and coauthor of the 20th anniversary edition of "A Peacock in the Land of Penguins: A Fable About Creativity and Courage" (Berrett-Koehler; 2015), now an international best-seller in 23 languages.