Live Through Action, Or Die By Perception. The Choice Is Yours
Leadership Lesson: We should all understand what the differences in consequence are between what happens when we let things happen to us – sitting, waiting, and perceiving – versus when we plan, act, and execute.
Recently, due to our new reality in the era of COVID-19 and the resulting need for so many of us to work from home, I began attending an online group series called #CreateWhatsNeeded launched by Fathom, a future design firm in West Hartford, CT.
The series, made up of ongoing sessions hosted by various professionals from across different fields and backgrounds, provides a broad spectrum of topics and a wide field of attendees/discussion partners. The series topics run the gamut from business topics, such as technology, money and investing, and organizational pivoting, to more personal tools such as finding inspiration in times of crisis, reflection in a reactive environment, and building resilience.
And regardless of whether the daily topic originates in the needs of the organization or of the individual, the applicability of the lessons can transfer from one arena to the other if you’re creative and open enough to seeing those connections and opportunities.
In any case, in the morning leading up to the session on navigating anxiety in crisis and daily life, lead by Christina Dufour, I thought about my own anxiety. (Hopefully, every time we come across a lesson in something we’re familiar with, it pushes us all to self-reflect and, if comfortable enough, share our own story.)
In reflecting on my own experience as a life-long sufferer of anxiety, albeit to subdued, varying degrees throughout my life, I thought about what it is that might’ve shifted, leading to my anxiety being much tamer in my later years than former.
In hindsight, it was quick to figure out what it was. It was pretty simple to see. And it was summed up in these words:
When it comes down to it, for me, what made a huge difference was understanding – and correcting – the balancing act between perception and action.
The times in my life that were more inundated in anxiety corresponded directly to the years I spent forfeiting control of my life. I guess through a process of my maturation (…please stop laughing 🙂…), education, and self-discovery, I was able to recognize both what I wanted out of life and what I could contribute.
In my own life, and in listening to both friends and clients, I’ve realized how much perception really is our enemy. Hopefully, anyone reading this already knows how powerful thoughts can be and how much they can hold us back. Oftentimes, for most of us, what we believe is just completely off the mark, but it manifests itself so powerfully that it seems to take on the strength of a physical form holding us back and pushing us down.
It’s amazing what we can build up in our minds — and what we tear down.
To combat that, though, where possible, it’s best to take action to break that paralysis of perception.
So, here’s a breakdown of both perception and action and how they each apply to ourselves and to others.
So, first, perception.
Again, thoughts – they can be crippling. It’s not even that they may be negative, beating us down; they can also just limit our ability to develop, grow, and seek out what’s possible. There’s a difference between limiting the positive and bringing on the negative. The former stagnates us, paralyzing value, while the other actually tears it down and strips it away.
And that limiting perception doesn’t just exist on our end. It can also limit our potential in the eyes of others, based on what they perceive of us.
What We Perceive
In terms of what we believe, it can take so many forms. We may lack confidence, not see opportunities, or not even be aware of what we want or are capable of. For whatever reason, we may view the outside world as unforgiving and unaccepting of who we are. In some cases, imposter syndrome can rear its ugly head in our lives and work.
So, here are some questions. What are you reacting to? What are you perceiving? Do you believe you need to just accept what is? Have any of your initial perceptions ever played out and followed through to what your expectations were? It’s not that what we’re concerned about can’t happen. It just seems that we do ourselves in more than we need to — and preemptively, before anything even does.
What Others Perceive
Another danger in giving in to our own perceptions is that, because we’re holding back and not moving forward, it gives people more room to build up their own perception of us. Because we’re limiting what they see, we let them possibly perceive us in a certain way, controlling a narrative of who we are, or not seeing any narrative at all.
To offset and even combat the effects of that perception, we have to act.
Action is the other side of this approach, where intentions and hopes are put into play. What do you actually do, not just believe or think? Through action, we can initiate progress for ourselves and shape the story of who we are to others.
Action For Yourself
So, for yourself, how do you act? How do you realize what you’re all about, what you’re capable of, and how to move forward — and actually move in that direction? Through that curiosity and movement, you can resist the crippling effects of what you’re strictly perceiving. In acting, making progress, and gaining momentum, you see the benefits and realize the fruits of what you can try to control.
Action For Others
Then, how do you act to influence your narrative in the eyes of others? Where the first consideration about action is about what you realize for yourself, this consideration is about what you actually show others. What do you demonstrate and show so that there’s no room for someone to misinterpret, mistranslate, or misperceive what you’re all about? By controlling your narrative as much as possible in the eyes of others, you’re not crippled or limited by what someone else perceives.
Again: Live Through Action, or Die By Perception. The Choice Is Yours
Yes, using the word “die” may seem a bit melodramatic. And, no, dying obviously doesn’t mean in the physical sense. But, its use here speaks more to what you surrender, forfeit, and give up on. And if you’re not living, or moving forward, let’s not just say you’re stagnant. Instead, let’s view it as a piece of your hope, dreams, and goals surrendering its life energy — ergo, dying. Let’s put a little more urgency in there.
The word “die” is a reflection of the level of urgency people should feel for action when they sense their own level of frustration, depression, anxiety, etc – whatever it may be that has them feeling not quite right – boiling up. With due diligence and mental health help where required, they can consider what steps toward resolution and satisfaction they can take.
Going through life and work merely waiting and perceiving can keep you from living your best life and ability
It’s important to wake up to any available lessons today before paying the consequences tomorrow.
Here’s the usual caveat: This is not for everyone.
Those who are open to it will see its value and act within their resources, desires, and capabilities.
Others may consider what I’m saying and decide it’s not for them. A third group of people may not even consider it because they don’t like the way it sounds, even from a distance.
Everyone will end up where they’re meant to end up, based on what their own take is for exploring for themselves.
Mine is just one take. My take, my story. What’s yours?