How To Notice What We Don’t See

Last Friday, I went on an architectural tour of the Vitra Industrial Campus on the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland.

Vitra is one of the premier makers of iconic modern furniture. The campus, Vitra’s main manufacturing complex, is a sprawling grid of industrial buildings designed by some of the world’s great architects: Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Sanaa, Herzog de Meuron.

I am an architecture geek. Whoa, I was in architectural heaven.

Besides being tickled to no end, here’s what I really got out of the visit:

  1. There are the architectural details I noticed right away.

  2. There are the nuances I only understood because of the wise insights relayed to me by my wonderful Italian tour guide.

Yes, there’s noticing, and then there’s noticing.

My guide’s elaborations enriched my experience. I was super-charged by my deeper understanding of the intent behind the designs. I was buoyed by my heightened awareness of hidden complexities.

I suddenly saw all the stuff I couldn’t see on my own.

And then I thought of how you and I maneuver through our business days. Meeting by meeting, conversation by conversation, email by email. Rush, rush.

There’s noticing, and then there’s noticing.

Chances are, you do not have a charming Italian guide to point out the hidden meaning of things. I sure don’t.

This leaves us with the following options:

  1. We listen to what our intuition tells us. Beware: When we know people well, it is easy to confuse intuition with old stories we carry. And with an area such as architectural knowledge, intuition simply will not do the trick.

  2. We become our own inner guide. We ask frequent How and Why questions before jumping to a conclusion. Our inner guide probes rigorously to gain a more considered insight into whatever situation we’re facing. And when it comes to architectural knowledge, we go and conduct a bit of research!

  3. We consult with our cadre of trusted guides. I like to joke that I have a trusted guide for every part of my life – my coach, my therapist, my trainer, my entrepreneur buddies. As the book CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS so compellingly states: A shared pool of meaning is inherently richer than our own pool. Trust the shared pool!

There’s noticing, and then there’s noticing.

And noticing, truly noticing, is such exhilarating fun.

This week, as you go about your business ways, consider this question: Am I noticing all there is to see?

At times, the answer will be yes.

If in any way in doubt, go the extra mile. Consult your guides. And know that the insights offered by your guides will super-charge your heart and your mind. Enjoy!