“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift
A friend of mine was making an observation about political correctness today. The observation wasn’t necessarily wrong per se but the argument was of the “straw man” variety. It’s pretty common “rhetorical tool” (also, my nickname since 6th grade) and is used to infer something that the other side hasn’t said.
You might hear it in the arguments against same sex marriage, it goes something like this: “Let’s say we legalize same sex marriage. What’s next? People marrying their horses, turtles and butterflies, the gayest of all insects!”.
I noticed that other people kind of criticized this but didn’t offer much in the way of constructivity. How he could approach the issue. So, I tried to give him some pointers and support.
I suggested some things like making another type of argument for his case. Maybe being more constructive himself and offering a vision instead. He told us what he wanted people to stop doing. While better than the straw man this still doesn’t really inspire people to action.
What people tend to feel is either shame which usually leads to more of the same behaviour. We’ve talked about this before but it might need some revisiting! Why it leads to more of the same? It instills the person with the feeling of BEING bad/stupid/wrong instead of them DOING bad/stupid/the wrong things. In other words, they are in a fixed mindset (unable to change) instead of a growth mindset (capable of change). Check out Carol Dweck’s books on the subject, they’re really great!
What’s the more constructive way?
Tell people what kind of future you envision by telling them what actions will lead them there!
Let’s say you’re in a group stuck in the middle of nowhere and no one’s got a map. You have three people who are ready, willing and able to take charge. Yes, yes… I know. You’re thinking: “Dafuq? I’m the one who should be leading us!”. Settle down. This is just an exercise, jeez!
The first one explains to the crowd what a bad mess they’re in and that they should just stay put so that you don’t get even more lost.
The second one tells the crowd why the other two people are completely wrong, incompetent and weak while pointing one way without explaining why.
The third person tells the crowd a story about why they feel that they should go a certain way (e.g their grandfather teaching them about navigation using the sun and stars), what way to go and how to go about it.
I’m sure that there’ll be a gravitation towards each of them depending on which state of mind we’re in. Some might see the first one as the safe bet, it won’t get worse and but it won’t get better. Others see a powerful and assertive leader in the second which seems safe, we want someone who can make decisions. The third seems cool because they let us make up our own minds, they’ll stand beside us instead of dragging us along by sheer force.
Sure, the third one follows what Simon Sinek tells us about the “Golden Circle”. But it’s also what most of the really inspirational leaders have done throughout the ages. Tell us the story, give us the direction and tell us what we can do to get there.
This isn’t just about leadership, argumentation or psychology. It’s about how we choose to see the world around us.
There’s this great acronym “WYSIWYG”, it stands for “What You See Is What You Get” (anybody else feeling the old “law of attraction”-tango coming on?).
Take a look at how you frame problems, or OPPORTUNITIES as Optimist Prime calls it! Do they tend to come in a complaining manner? You know, where you just rehash: “this is the way it is, doesn’t it suck?”, without offering any actionable solution. Does it come out as: “If only others could do this instead we’d all be better off!”? Or maybe, just maybe, do you express it as: “You know, I see a bright future here. This how we can do it, i’ll go first. This is what we will accomplish!”?
If we don’t see the problems and opportunities at hand we’re not going to be effective in our endeavours. If we see nothing but them we’re not going to be effective either. If we can see them, see beyond them and imagine what it’ll be like to stand at our destination looking back at what we’ve done, we’re halfway there.
WYSIWIQ – What You See Is What I Quote!
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman
“The responsibility of tolerance lies with those who have the wider vision.” – George Eliot
“Vision is the true creative rhythm.” – Robert Delaunay
“It’s much more powerful and compelling to create a positive vision than it is to tear somebody down.” – Mark McKinnon
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller
“A mission statement is not something you write overnight. But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life.” – Stephen Covey
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel A. Barker