Do you know what you see or do you see what you know?

A Fresh Perspective

Recently while in church, our pastor quoted Abraham Joshua Heschel. It was something like, “know what you see, don’t see what you know.” Since then, I have been thinking about that quote as it related to the message, but also how it relates to leadership.  Because we are creatures of habit, we often have a similar daily routine. We get into a rhythm that is comfortable and predictable. Could it be because we are so familiar with our surroundings we make assumptions and only see what we know? I will admit, this can be true for me.

Whenever I have an opportunity to meet with a new employee, I give them a challenge. One thing they bring to us that only a new employee can bring, is a fresh perspective. Due to this unique perspective, they may see things differently than long time employees. As a company, we evolve as we grow. Some of the things we did when we were smaller may not make sense today. We may be in different times or have different requirements. However, because we see what we know, we often don’t see the need for change.

Blazing New Trails

As leaders, we have a challenge. While some of our challenge is to reduce chaos, part of our responsibility is to create some chaos. We need to continue to push the envelope, discover new opportunities, challenge the status quo, and be prepared to make changes for the future. In order to make this happen, we have to see things in a different way. Just like when we have a conversation with someone. In order to hear well, we need to continue to be curious, and not assume we know what they might say or what they are thinking. Likewise in business, in order to lead well, we need to continue to be curious about new ways of doing things. And ultimately determine if doing something differently makes sense for our organizations.

My challenge for you is to conscientiously spend some time reflecting on whether you will continue to see (and hear) what you know, or know what you see.

Keep leading the Interstates way!


Jack Woelber, Interstates Control Systems, Inc. President


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