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06 JULY 2021
Are you always right in your eyes?

by Alan Hosking: Publisher of HR Future, South Africa's human strategy magazine, and a Leadership Renewal Coach for senior executives.

It’s said that there are three versions of any story – your version, my version and the truth. But that’s not necessarily a view shared by the many people who consider truth to be what ever their view of a situation is.

Every newspaper carries stories of people who have allegedly defrauded or robbed others – yet deny any and all wrong doing when confronted on the matter.


Is it that they have no idea of what right and wrong are? Is it that they think no-one else has an idea of what right and wrong are? Or is it that they think they’re smart enough to fool people into believing what they say? Probably a bit of all three … and then some.

If you don’t want to be like all these people and live with the illusion that you’re right when everybody else can see what an idiot you really are, you’ve got to check your vision to establish that what YOU see is the same as what others are seeing. If you want to succeed in living a significant and successful life at work and at home, you need to learn the skill of seeing yourself the way others see you. This applies to CEOs as much as it applies to shop floor workers.

To see yourself as others see you requires brutal honesty with yourself and a conscious decision that you might not actually be right about everything after all. Consider this … there are many times when you think others are not right. Maybe they’re thinking the same about what you say and do.

Being right in our own eyes – always – is not realistic. After all, we’re human and, with that, come all the frailties and flaws of being human. Don’t for one moment kid yourself into thinking you’re different. You’re not. And neither am I. Like you, I am also inclined to see things in ways that suit me. It’s therefore important for me to continually listen to what others say so that I can guard against seeing everything the way I want to and making the mistake of thinking that everything I see is right.

French-Cuban author Anais Nin said, “We see things not as they are but as we are.”

As you consider what you see, consider how you ARE and how what you are can influence what you see.

Simple example … Let’s take someone who has just been caught speeding. If “how they are” is immature, lacking in accountability and never wrong in their eyes, they will start an argument with the traffic official about how unfair it is that they have been caught. They will complain about the fact that the officials should be spending more time policing other traffic violations (they should!) and point out that others were also exceeding the speed limit and that it’s unfair that they were the only ones caught. They will see themselves as right and the officer as wrong, and will therefore do or say anything to get out of paying the fine.

If, however, they are mature, prepared to be accountable for their own actions and aware of the fact that they make mistakes and were speeding, they will accept the fine graciously and then pay it as soon as convenient.

That’s a really simple example but it demonstrates the truth that we choose to see things the way we want to. Now, how many things at work are you seeing the way you want to? Maybe you need to be seeing them in a different way. What about what happens in your home? How many things are you choosing to see in a way that suits you? Maybe you’re not seeing these things as they really are.

Maybe, instead of your thinking your boss, colleague, spouse, partner or child is the problem, you need to consider the fact that YOU may be the problem – or, at least, part of it.

If the problem (in your eyes) is someone else’s, it remains unsolvable. You can only start solving it when you accept that it is yours.

So, when you realise that you just might not be right all the tame, you have taken the first step to addressing what may be preventing you from becoming successful and significant in your company and your home.

Be brave. Face yourself and your faults. Then do something about them. The greatest giant we have to face and conquer is the giant inside ourselves.

HR Future
HR Future is South Africa's only independent, most forward thinking human resource magazine with the richest content wealth of HR related issues on the continent of Africa to help executives recruit, manage, train, reward and retain the best talent. Visit our InfoCentre or website.

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