The crucial six inches. Do you ever question your perceptions?

Is it the most crucial six inches in any organisation?

I refer to the six inches we put between ourselves and our perceptions.

What do I mean?

Our brain is producing perceptions all the time; it’s what it does.

The trouble is, most of our perceptions are only partially true; and many, are not true at all!

Yet we believe them; we trust our perceptions to be telling us the truth about a person or a situation. And so we act on them with sometimes unfortunate consequences.

‘I’m trying to make things better – but they’re just getting worse!’

The fact is, most of our perceptions are about as reliable as a drunk on a Saturday night; and it’s a good day when we find the humility to realise that.

If we can put six inches between ourselves and our perceptions – just a brief moment, a simple pause – we give ourselves space to reflect, to look at what’s happening inside us.

‘This is my perception. But is it the whole truth? Is it helpful?’

No perception of mine has ever survived that simple questioning; and it’s the difference between reacting to a situation, which inflames it… and responding, which brings a sense of holding and calm.

Good managers respond, because they put a life-giving six inches between themselves and their perceptions.

Aspire to three pauses in your day, in which, on each occasion, you notice a perception…and question it.