Trust in the 99%: When It’s Not Just a Lamp

I recently led a corporate training offsite for a group of financial executives. They were great—eager, excited, ready to jump in and really tackle each of the challenges head on. Exactly the kind of participants I love to work with.

As an exercise I often have people pair off in teams of two, with one “partially sighted” person leading a colleague with even “less vision” around an obstacle course. In other words, I obscure one person’s vision a lot and the second person’s a ton. There was an odd number of people in the group so I paired off with a woman and led her through the course—cheating, I know…

But as I was leading her around the course something interesting happened. She stopped in front of a large table. She squinted, tilted her head, felt around…something was bothering her. I pushed her to articulate what she was experiencing and she kept saying there was something in her line of sight but she couldn’t figure out what. I suggested she work through it out loud—what she could see? Were there any environmental hints? A sound? A scent? Something that happened in the moment before she experienced whatever this was that could give her some insights?

She rattled off a few things:

“I can see a bright light.”

“It’s an interesting shape…I can’t tell what, but it’s not something simple.”

“It’s on top of something—maybe it’s on top of a table?”

“It’s VERY bright…there’s lots of light emanating from it.”

But, still, she doubted herself. She was frustrated and anxious to understand what was in front of her. I led her closer to the mystery object and broke it down:

“It’s bright. You can see light coming off of it. It’s on top of a table, it seems. Maybe it’s a lamp?” I said.

She tensed up. Yes, she acknowledged what I was saying made logical sense, but still couldn’t wrap her head around it. She couldn’t really see the lamp so she couldn’t know with absolute certainty that it was or wasn’t, even though her past experiences, present clues and common understanding of the room configuration would lead her to the same conclusion.

It was a moment that really made me think. I understand where this woman is coming from. Remember the 1% I talked about in an earlier post? This was her 1%. She knew deep down that this object was a lamp, but she allowed the 1% to cloud the 99% of her that understood and accepted what was in front of her.

It’s something we all do. Each of us has a different 1%, though. While the lamp example may seem silly, it really affected her. She was in an unfamiliar environment with an unfamiliar partner—me—experiencing an unfamiliar sensation…namely, not being able to see and, with that, be able to immediately understand everything around her with absolute certainty. But maybe she’s jump out of a plane with no hesitation—maybe that’s not her 1%!

Trust is an extremely powerful and extremely important piece of my life. Like I said earlier I have to trust that things are as they seem, as they were yesterday/last week/last month, and as logic would dictate. If I spent this amount of time trying to assure myself with 100% certainty that the curb wasn’t cracked or the light still goes from red to green or that the car will stop at the signal, I would get nowhere ever. I take a breath and surrender myself to the 99%—the overwhelming percentage where logic, common sense and a keen memory reign supreme.

And guess what? I save time. I save energy. I reduce anxiety. I just do and I don’t look back, second guess or let self-doubt cloud my vision.

Again I recommend digging into your 1%, whatever that may be. Likely you’ll have different 1% moments in different scenarios, so be on the lookout as you leap into new experiences and environments. Try to use your senses your know-how and logic to give your confidence to keep moving ahead—and if you can’t, ask yourself if it matters. Would knowing with total certainty that this is a lamp have changed the course of her day? Hardly. Those are the moments when you need to  keep moving forward and pay no attention to the objects in your rear view mirror.

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