“Life Lenses”: A perspective on how to view the world

My goals with This Curious Adventure are two-fold: 1) uncover life’s hidden rulebook to help me craft my life in the way I want and 2) share what I’ve learned so others can do the same.

After being recently asked, “how do you think of these things?”, I realized that I’ve been sharing what I find, but I haven’t yet shared how I find them.

My favorite tool is what I’ve come to think of as “life lenses”. Putting on different lenses provides a different, and often surprising, experience.

Most people are familiar with visual lenses, which allow us to see the world in a spectrum beyond our standard rainbow of color. Infrared lenses, which entered popular culture through films like Predator, let us see the world through heat signatures

The one that most opened my eyes to what we miss in the world is the ultraviolet lens, which is a wavelength that can be seen by bees and other insects but not naturally by us. We think flowers are beautiful, but they are plain compared to what bees see in the exact same flower.

The challenge is that you only need one lens to make it through life. And like many other skills, trying new lenses feels weird at first and requires a bit of hard work to make it a habit.

The upside is that, done well, a good lens is like a superpower. For corporate life, the most obvious (and useful) lens is the “boss lens” – the more you can see the world through your boss’s eyes, the better you will be able to predict her behavior. There is a simple way to test this. After completing an assignment, can you say with 90+% accurately how your boss will react? 

The number of possible lenses is vast. Every person on the planet has a unique lens. Every environment has a lens – meaning environments impact the behavior of those people who are in them (e.g. a football stadium has a different effect than a courtroom). There are time lenses and system lenses. There are process and organization lenses. The list goes on.

The more lenses you have, the more varied they are, the bigger your toolkit. Each lens makes it easier to see the world as it might really be, and may help you uncover some useful rules along the way.

But here’s the real trick – once you have multiple lens, you can combine them in unexpected ways. What if you put on the football stadium lens and look at your team or organization? If you have a good boss that you respect, what if you put on her lens and look at the local food kitchen where you volunteer to try and find ways to make it better? Unusual lenses result in unusual ideas, which means more creativity and more opportunity and ultimately a more interesting life.

So my question to you: How many lenses do you use to see the world?

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