The Heart of the Matter
March 09, 2012
Seeing (and feeling) the Invisible

Fedex logo.jpg

During the past two years, I've asked more than a thousand people what they see when they look at the FedEx logo. 80% say "letters" or "colors" or "shapes" or "the word "FedEx." The other 20% tell me they see an arrow -- a white arrow.

When I ask the baffled 80% if they see the arrow, most of them shake their heads and shrug. Only when I point to the arrow (in between the second "E" and the "x") do they see it -- a moment that is usually followed by their favorite exclamation of surprise and a chuckle.

This little phenomenon, methinks, is a great metaphor for life.

There's something right in front of us and we just can't seem to see it.

It's been there for a very long time, but for us it doesn't exist. In fact, if someone were to ask us if it existed, our answer would be an emphatic "no" -- not because it doesn't exist, but because we can't see it.

Homer Simpson dumbfounded.gif

This explains a lot of things.

Cognitive psychologists boil it down to just three words: "Motivation affects perception."

In other words, we see what we're primed to see and miss the rest.

Shakespeare had a more poetic way of referring to this phenomenon. He called it "rose-colored glasses."

Think about it.

When you're driving through a town and you're hungry, you see the restaurants. If you're running out of gas, you see the gas stations. If someone close to you is dying, you see the funeral homes.

And so it goes.

Our entire existence becomes a kind of oversized FedEx logo -- full of colors, shapes, and letters -- but all too often we miss the white arrow.

What we need, is a background/foreground shift -- the ability to see what we never knew was there.

Good teachers have a knack for helping their students make this kind of shift. Good coaches, too.

They have, it seems to me, a kind of X-ray vision. They see what their students (or their players) can't see and help them discover it on their own.

Simply put, they know how to prime the experience of truly seeing, truly feeling, and truly enjoying what was formerly inaccessible.

Silencing child in white.jpg

In my experience, this is what my teacher does -- not just for me, but for thousands of people around the world.

And while their description of what he does may differ widely, the twinkle in their eye is universal.

Mystery solved. Peace discovered. Life lived to the fullest.

Also published here

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at March 9, 2012 08:26 PM

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Welcome to Mitch Ditkoff's blog about what's really important in this life: Peace, gratitude, love, joy, clarity, and the effort required to wake up and smell the roses. Enjoy!

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