Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reality from My Perspective

"Just keep describing reality from your perspective without laying blame and you will be fine."

These words caught my attention as I recently listened to a presentation by Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations (2002) and Fierce Leadership (2009), while she listed various pieces of advice.

It stood out to me because I believe it is true, but moreover, I want to believe it is true. It's one of those ideals that makes one think, If this could work, then just maybe the world ain't so bad. Maybe it is possible to enact change without leaving a trail of victims and scapegoats along the way.

I have to admit that the "your perspective" part gives me pause. Then, I wonder, Is it ever really possible to describe reality from anyone else's perspective other than your own?

Also, is it appropriate, or even honest, to end any piece of advice with "you'll be fine"? From my experience and observation, this sentiment just doesn't ring true. The fact is that consistently describing a reality that is uncomfortable for someone to deal with, whether that be an individual, committee, or organization can be a tough process. It can leave you alienated, disillusioned, unpopular.

Perhaps, if the reality from "your perspective" is indeed reality, period, then maybe the mere awareness of that is the same as being "fine" within your heart. Maybe the integrity of staying true to convictions regardless of how uneasy they make anyone feel (even you) is what it means to "be fine" in the end. You might not be fine with everyone, but which of us ever is?

So, let me take a stab at this. Reality from my perspective says that this admonition is misleading. My reality is that many people actually want to lay blame rather than just face facts and deal with issues objectively. And, of course, I wonder whose fault that is. ;)

Having said all that, though, I think this is an area in which the vision of the ideal must trump all else. It's kind of like Mother Teresa's "Anyway" poem. In the end, the truth may very well be that defining reality from your perspective without laying blame does not mean you'll be fine. It might mean hurts along the way. It might mean distractions. It might mean more work. It might mean misunderstandings, and it is never fun to be misunderstood, especially in your motives.

Still, my experience also tells me that despite all these legitimate concerns, this charge to define reality without laying blame is indeed the best action to take, particularly if you are in any kind of work with shaping culture that impacts the next generation (what this blog is intended to be all about).

There is no better option for those of us in public schools or ministries to families and young people or church reform settings than to define the reality that exists no matter what it is, and in turn, do so without laying blame. Admittedly, this is no small task. This is difficult!

Be the broken record, if necessary, but consistently, relentlessly, passionately help others to see the reality for what it is while pressing on to create a new, better reality.

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