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The Delicate Imbalance of Perspective

There is an old adage: be careful what you ask for, you might get it. And a really dangerous “ask” is to ask someone’s opinion. And the double-dog most dangerous “ask” of all is to ask a large group of people their opinion.

I’ve written endlessly on perspective and perception, on filters and distortions, and it should come as no surprise to you dear reader, than that an individual’s opinion comes so heavily weighted and distorted by their own personal lifetime collection of experiences, influences, and personal interactions. And so to the N-th degree with group opinions.

I will state that the feedback you will receive is real, it is genuine. To them, to that person, from their perspective. But it is so thickly colored, filtered, and distorted that it may end up being unuseful to you. My best analogy at present is that group opinions are the spoken equivalent of a carnival funhouse mirror; a twisted and distorted imprecise representation of reality.

Yet I did so; asked over 75 people their opinion on something.

Yes, the individual perspectives were fascinating; a study of the sociology and the human psyche in another time and place I suppose. But not my goal. Instead I was seeking commonalities, threads with which I could weave something of substance.

So for example: “my supervisor is…..” and fill in the blank; stubborn, insensitive, too lax, too rigid, doesn’t listen, ignores me, plays favorites, keeps pushing me for more, whatever……

And before I continue, allow me to offer my perspective, one I’ve freely shared through the years. A 1st line supervisor’s job is about the most critical and difficult jobs anywhere. The organizational goals are developed at a high level and refined to specifics at director and manager levels. And it is gaveled down from each upper level to each lower level, ending at the last level – the supervisor – to communicate and execute with their workers. All the while, there are the myriad of tasks we expect then to accomplish: labor and time charging, training, safety oversights, OJT, not to mention quality, cost, and schedule requirements. And all the while they are interacting with 15-20 unique and completely diverse workers, all of whom have different and often diametrically opposed needs and wants, They need their supervisor to be a coach, a father or mother, a priest, a psychiatrist, a friend, a mentor, or whatever. Each worker has their own special needs and problems:  marital problems, loss of a parent or souse, financial issues, substance or alcohol abuse issues, lack of confidence, lack of comprehension, bullying by a crew member, and the list goes on. They all demand the full attention of their supervisor, as does the superintendent above them, driving them for performance. Their workers, to use another analogy, are a gathering of baby birds in a nest, mouths agape and turned upward crying for feeding. But each bird is a different species sparrow, hawk, blue jay, eagle, finch, etc. All needing to be “fed” something completely different. That is the daily life of a 1st line supervisor. If they don’t succeed getting upper management’s goals and objectives to the workers – who actually build the product – and somehow lead them in executing those goals and objectives effectively, well then the whole corporation is at risk.

So yes, a very hard job.

And when I receive feedback on “my supervisor” I always take it with a grain of salt. WARNING: learning moment ahead here:

From several websites on the origin of idioms:

Pliny the Elder translated an ancient text, which some have suggested was an antidote to poison, with the words ‘be taken fasting, plus a grain of salt’.

Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, 77 A.D. translates into modern English thus:

After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting; it was to the following effect: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.

The suggestion is that injurious effects can be moderated by the taking of a grain of salt.

Rather than focus on the one, I allow the comments, thoughts, opinions, and occasional vitriol to flow into some self-arranged series of buckets or collectors. And when all is said and done, to take a closer look at the two or three most full. Those – the significant few – are the ones upon which to focus and examine more closely.

But wait! There’s more!! Recognize that life, at its core, is all about balance – in everything. Consider this recent year’s weather, at least ours here in the northeast. We have a splendid and wonderful summer; lots of sunshine, warm days, and essentially no rain. Oh maybe a shower here or there, but no real days of continuous and prolonged rain: those “rainy days” were just not part of this past summer. But of course the cycle of water has to “be”, has to do what it does, even on its own time and schedule. And so sure enough, we got rains this fall, days of heavy and non-stop rain measured in inches each time. My back woods are still flooded, today a frozen playground for my grandsons. My point is that while locally, and for a while, our weather was out of balance, it ultimately balanced itself.

Good luck, bad luck? It will, truly and eventually balance out. Likewise, lie or cheat and get away with it does not mean that will continue, it will eventually be discovered and justice will restore balance. Work hard and honestly and you may not always receive the rewards you might feel you are entitled to, that you deserve. But eventually that effort will be recognized and just rewards will result. Run (or swim, bike, etc.) and your fitness level will increase, you will become stronger, and you will lose weight and gain muscle. Do it too much and you will likely injure yourself, wear out a piece or part of yourself. Balance… hinges on it.

From a not too distant post: Every equation in this universe balances. Mathematical, electrical, chemical……all of them. There is pure and undeniable balance in the laws of physics. The laws of conservation of mass, of energy, of momentum, and of matter; they all ultimately balance. And just like in the physical world, the more you exercise your balance, the stronger your core becomes. The more we recognize balance – mental, spiritual, psychological, egotistical balance – the stronger our internal strength and the better prepared we are to interact with our world as rationale and understanding beings. Recognizing of course, that none of us are perfect and we ourselves will have our own days of imbalance. And that will help you in ways you can’t yet comprehend dear reader.

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