We take our attention for granted. From the minute we wake up, our eyes and ears help guide us through our day. We make many quick judgments to determine how we will interact with what is in front of us. Choosing from a bufett of routines and habits used daily.
Another part of our lives is made up of quick judments that appear mindful. When we encounter problems, struggles, or most any challenging situation. We react to what we see and hear with conclusions, opinions, or specific rigid next steps. All wrapped with a bow of certainty that are thoughts are both correct and accurate.
Between mindless responses to acting as if we were all knowing, there lies a third possibility. One where we believe we don’t know or are not sure. Where things don’t fit together. Our curiosity wants us to figure out what is different. What is not consistent or logical. Something doesn’t make sense. Or the situation or problem we face is not clear.
This is where the power of observation can be so powerful. Requiring a search for little things that are different, out of place or not consistent. Observation occupies itself with nuance and the search for perspective. Suspending judgment and next steps. Quietly waiting for a key that unlocks a much wider door to understanding before deciding what to do next.
Observation is a hard tool to invoke because it requires great patience. Going against our instincts to act quickly. Wanting to always be right pushes us far away from the world of observation. For observation is never sure what it will find in its search for inconsistencies that differ from our initial conclusions.
Developing the patience for observation definitely will slow you down. Its value is in forcing us to think, question, and reflect before we act or lay out our next steps. Visiting an art museum can be a perfect training ground for us to develop the skill of observation. Asking us to look for nuance in a brush stroke. Making us pause to see what is around the subject of a painting.
Having the patence to observe is not an admonition to never make decisions. Rather its value is in creating doubt in our minds to always look around to see what is different or missing before blindly accepting all things at face value. Potentially saving us time by thinking through what might work best given what we find. Giving us a chance to adjust our next steps before we make a mistake that may be hard to recover from.