Wiping the Windshield

This morning before I left the house, I decided to clean my glasses. I’ve done this before, but today was different. I REALLY cleaned them. I washed them with Dawn Platinum and dried them gingerly with a soft cloth. Then, I packed my bag, hopped the train and headed downtown.

Right before we pulled into Union Station, a woman approached me and said, “Those are really great glasses.” I was startled at first, but managed to mumble a thank you and flash an appreciative half-smile. She replied by letting me know that when she sees something she likes, she’s inclined to say it. I told her I couldn’t argue with that. Then, we both moved silently into the churn of commuters hurrying along the narrow strip of concrete and out into the street.

As I walked the 8 blocks or so to Michigan Avenue, I was struck by the metaphor. To be seen, I had to clean my lenses. I followed the thought which led me to an interesting awareness — that sometimes in order to get the response or result we seek, we may have to do the opposite. To appreciate the paradox.

I have been struggling with a project all week — writing a curriculum for servant leaders — there’s a lot of content, but little time for this intensive course. It’s my impulse to cram in all the information, theory, facts, activities, and models to ensure that the participants get maximum value. Yet, what really may be needed is less. Posing the right questions and inviting participants to bring their own best thinking, experience, and wisdom to the conversation - - clearing away the academic clutter so they can better see themselves as the leaders they are, and the leaders they aspire to be. Wiping off my windshield so they can get a better view.

Maya Angelou once said, “We are only as blind as we want to be.” The opposite might be, “we only see what what we want to be.” By seeing differently, seeking clarity— we may find a new perspective, or many new perspectives that hold new possibilities for getting the results we seek. if we don’t take time to clean the lenses, we might just miss it.

Mary McGuinness