If you’re human, like me, from time to time you’re going to find yourself in those round-about, back and forth discussions that passionate people have. The kinds where you either release the hulk, or pray to God to help you keep him buried inside. God knows I’ve said that prayer a couple of times.
The truth is, I can be a rather emotional person – when I think my truth, my experiences and my time are being devalued and discredited. Like a warrior I take to the offense, fighting hard to defend my viewpoint. And why shouldn’t I? If I have lived through something, and witnessed it firsthand, no one should be able to discredit it – right? Wrong!
Have you ever watched Vantage Point? If you haven’t, then I recommend you do. Vantage Point, released in 2008, is a political action thriller film, which explored different eye witness accounts of a crime attempted in plain sight. Though there were hundreds of witnesses to the crime, oddly enough, each witness recounted dissimilar experiences. Interesting right?
When I originally looked at Vantage Point, I applauded it for its brilliant cinematography, never really taking the time to synergize its message with my life. Heck, I didn’t even recognize there was one. It wasn’t until recently, while engaging in a series of those ‘special discussions’ did I find myself suddenly enlightened to the message in the film, that is, that things are never quite what they seem.
My teammate and I just couldn’t see eye to eye. There we were facing a major deliverable for our client and we were bickering. He thought we had met for long enough and that we should adjourn. I thought it made no sense leaving the meeting having not accomplished anything. I had grown accustomed to a style of working until the job was done, or at least until we were at a comfortable place, neither of which was the case. He on the other hand, didn’t believe in wasting time in an unproductive meeting. So we developed our opinions – he thought I was too rigid and inefficient, I thought he was disruptive and lazy.
After a rather mature conversation one day, it became evident that we weren’t so different. We both wanted the same things. We wanted to be productive and succeed in our project. We just differed in our approaches. Our revelation that day, allowed us to form a dynamic duo, and even more so, a great friendship.
See the truth is, there is no truth. Even though each and every one of us may witness the same event, we do so through different lenses. Our unique experiences, our biases, predispositions, even our individual comprehension, create schemas which we use to immediately assess the event we witness, and then ascribe a meaning. Think about it for a second. Have you ever seen someone with water running down their cheeks from their eyes? To you that person must be crying right? Of course they are! To someone else, who might know all too well about runny eyes, that individual might just be having a bad bout with allergies. So who’s right and who’s wrong?
The fact is truth can be rather ambiguous, especially when we attempt to understand it. Even when we recall the bare facts of an event, the person receiving the information builds it into their own schema and creates again a new truth. Understanding the significance of this can dynamically transform our lives.
When we recognize that our truths may not necessarily be right, we are more open to listening and understanding others’ viewpoints. Our ability to cooperate and collaborate improves significantly, as we become better able to compromise and adapt to a variety of individuals and circumstances. Most importantly, when you recognize that your truth or any truth may be skewed, you are better able to disallow the beliefs of others to influence who you are. It is only then can you really understand the notion of seeing the cup half full and half empty at the same time.