Peter Johnson & PiM

Insights Discovery & Deeper Discovery Licensed Practitioners

Do we reflect our own bias?

This picture shows some wonderful trees with the foliage still young – a delightful sight that caught my eye. I guess made so much more impactful by the bright light - as I was in the shade, the contrast even more apparent. And yes, similar to another picture recently posted but in a very different setting.
The other part of the picture that I pondered over was the amazing reflection in the river. The river was moving but calm, looking so flat it was if it had just been ironed, with all the creases removed.
I stood and looked for a few minutes, listening to the birds, smelling the air with the range of ‘notes’ of a different kind that it carried.
It is a river that at times is coloured by the silt after a storm, strong ripples when the wind is blowing; frequently disturbed by boats of varying sizes moving about, a duck or swan floating along, or landing or taking off. Even the odd fish surfacing to capture a tasty morsel.
As I walked on my mind had been caught with the clarity of the reflection; so calm one could enjoy the full impact in the mirror-like surface, seeing and enjoying the colours in duplicate. A greater impact being made, one I am sure many artists would love to sit and create in such a perfect setting.
Yet when one often looks at other people the main picture will be noticed, but seldom is a reflection cast; even if there is, little detail can be seen. This is true of our perception of the person. Too often there is ‘noise’ to disturb the way we see the other person. Often tainted by own bias.
I have been running some workshops and one of the pictures I use was created in 1911. Published in a magazine called Punch, no longer in print. Around the time this picture was created many others of the type were created too. There was an interest in pictures that could be drawn and seen in more than one way. The picture I was using shows an image that can be interpreted as both and young lady and an old lady.
For those who have seen the picture before there is a personal preferred way of seeing the image – the young or the old lady seen first. For those who have not seen the image before there is always a mix in the room where some see the old, and some see the young, but cannot see the other. It takes some time before people start to see both…albeit in some situations it has taken a considerable time to spot both.
Coming back to the reflection in the picture, in the river – it struck me that as much as I like to observe, with people development at the core of what I do, I am sure, at times, I am hugely absent from recognising all that can be seen, all that someone has to offer. My own bias playing a role in the distraction.
That left me remembering one of the elements of the Japanese approach to life, and their term Ikigai, the aim of leading a meaningful life, a life with purpose: walk slowly and you will go far. For in walking more slowly more is seen, more is appreciated. And in truth, like the story of the hare and the tortoise, often getting to the destination far more quickly. Critically, with greater perspective and less bias than our initial perception.

More has surfaced in our minds eye, just like on this day, more had surfaced by enjoying and noticing the refection in the river.
A valuable reminder to look and look again – yet how often do I take the time; how often do you take the time?
Best wishes,