The KEY: Can You Turn Up The Lights?

Dear Leader,

This Key describes the blind spot of locking yourself into your own perspective. Paradigm blindness can distort your view of reality, causing you to believe in what you see to the exclusion of other viewpoints.

It was late afternoon as we lined up on the runway for the last flight of the day. Practicing war games made for long, intense training days and this would have been my third flight for the day. But I did not want to miss it. I was a young pilot and I enjoyed pushing the envelope. Late flights can be very beautiful, filled with majestic views. As we took off for this final flight of the day, the setting sun was just at the right angle to send the last rays of light into my eyes, so I put the visor down to block the glare.

I loved flying during these summer afternoons, watching the subtle changes in the colors of the desert floor as the day comes to a close. After several passes through low valleys and some tight maneuvers, we turned back to base in a sky filled with oranges and pinks; the sun was no longer visible. As I made the final approach, I noticed that the runway lights just ahead looked a little dim. “Can you turn up the lights?” I asked over the radio to the control tower.

“Sure”, was the reply. The lights on the runway immediately turned a bit brighter. “Thanks”, I said. The officer in the control tower then added, over the radio. “You might also want to lift up your visor”. Luckily, there were only a few other pilots in the air to hear this and witness my embarrassment; so, I smiled, pulled the visor up and made a good landing.

What’s the point? I never waste embarrassment since it can be a good teacher. Here is what I learned from this experience:
1. If something doesn’t look right, if you cannot see, begin the search close by.
2. Always check yourself first – are you blocking possibilities, are you preventing light? Turn up the lights inside you.
3. Often, the answer is closer than you think. Often it is just in front of your nose. In my case, it was literally so.
4. Asking for help is the fastest way to get an external perception. We can all ask others to help us turn up the lights more often.
5. Keep a good sense of humor. It will help you turn embarrassment into a helpful lesson.
Now it’s your turn. Turn up the lights (lift up the visor) and be your own leader.

© Aviv Shahar

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