Grounds4Thought - Seeing all the stars

reflection resilience transformation Apr 17, 2024
Seeing all the stars.

When the doctor says you need to have cataract surgery, it’s time to use the experience to think more deeply.

I was finding it very hard to read. The first time, it was all about holding the page further and further away from my eyes. Then I learned I should also increase the amount of light. It helps the eyes have more options to get things in focus. Finally, my arms weren’t long enough, and even sitting with the bright sun on the page was not enough.  I went to the eye doctor for help. ‘No problem. This is perfectly natural,’ she said. I left with new glasses that allowed me to read again.

Years went by and I realized that once again I was finding it very hard to read! I increased the light. Only this time, it made it worse. I held the page at different distances, but it made no difference. I decided I was just being lazy. It was easier to watch a video than to read. I decided I was definitely getting lazy. I spoke to myself about this laziness and tried again with renewed purpose. Still reading was very hard to do. Finally, I went to the eye doctor. ‘No problem,’ she said. ‘This is perfectly normal.’ This time I left her office with an appointment with a surgeon. You guessed it. I had to have cataract surgery.

Two months later (it took time to get all the necessary medical things lined up), I had my right eye done. At first, I was stunned at how well I could see when I closed my left eye and used only the right one. Then I experimented and closed my right eye and looked at the world through my left one. Wow! It was like looking at a world done in sepia. You know, like old photos that have that lovely yellow tint to them. Only then did it occur to me that I had been looking at a world with all the colors biased toward yellow. The shift had occurred so slowly, I never noticed it.

I could hardly await the surgery on the second eye. You see that with one eye done and the other not, when I looked at things, my poor brain flickered between sepia and full color. There were times when I could see both colors at the same time. Other times, the colors floated next to one another almost like lemon ripple ice cream.

When the surgery was complete, I anxiously looked at the world. First, it was so bright and colorful. Nothing was hidden. Colors were pure (very important to someone who is an artist), leaves on the trees fluttered independently of each other with such detail, but at night  - oh at night was the greatest revelation! All the stars were still there – clear points of light dancing as they had when I was little. It was like discovering the vision of the universe for the first time. I could see the stars again!

For me, this experience was profound. It got me thinking. After all the consulting and coaching I have done, I had to ponder what lessons translated from one setting to another as both have to do with seeing what is real.

  1. First, did I always bring enough light on the problems at hand? I use the best processes and tools that are known to facilitate seeing the right issue clearly. Two books that informed me were: Appreciative Management and Leadership, Srivastiva & Cooperrider; more recently, Design Thinking & Social Construction by Celiane Camargo-Borges and Sheila McNamee.
  2. Then, was I aware if bias shaded understanding? My intention is always to create spaces where those participating feel at ease saying what they see, asking about what they don’t see without fear of retribution, because they have learned to trust each other. Two books I often reference because of their deep insights were Creativity Inc., Ed Catmul; Daring Greatly by Brené Brown)
  3. Did I bring enough voices to the table that nothing is hidden? I always invite those impacted from every level and unit – even when clients become nervous. An unusual book, I Come to Get Me: An inside look at the Junkanoo Festival by Arlene Nash Ferguson showed a different way of relating to one another; and Peter Block’s wonderful book, Community: The structure of belonging.
  4. Did I give everyone involved enough time to focus on the fine points of the issues and imagine the possibilities? Perhaps the hardest thing to overcome is time. The issues are real. Resources, always limited. The best I can do is create moments for focus with sound information and tons of encouragement. Three books informed some of my thinking were Time to Think, Nancy Kline; New Culture of Learning by Thomas and John Seely Brown; and my all-time favorite, The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.
  5. Lastly, is the leader always able to define the vision well enough that everyone involved can see the stars clearly? Only the leader can do that. A book that treats the topic well is The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki.

I was sad when I realized my eyes had succumbed to cataracts, nature’s wages of time. What a treat to see that my thinking benefited from wisdom, one of nature’s rewards of time. All I had to do was use the experience (and a little reading) as some grounds for thought.

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.