Friday, May 8, 2009 by Dave Blum

Where were you back in the fall of 1987?

Me, I was 24 years old, nearing the end of my 2-year ESL teaching gig in Japan, and afraid that I was going a little bit crazy.  Standing up in front of class everyday, I’d get this recurrent dizziness.  No, it wasn’t dizziness exactly — more like fuzziness.  Everyone and everything around me seemed just a bit out of focus.  Squinting seemed to help a little but still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my accustomed world of sharp, mental clarity had somehow changed–and I didn’t like it a bit!  What was wrong with me?  Why had my reality become so blurred?   Could it be a result of anxiety, from living in a foreign culture so long?  Why was I so “spaced out”, and what could I do about it?

It wasn’t until I got home to the States that I figured out the problem — I needed glasses!  What a relief!  I wasn’t crazy — I was just myopic.

I think this kind of thing happens a lot to us in life.  Faced with a different reality — say, the economic downturn — we initially fear the worst:  that there’s something wrong with us.  In an effort to hold onto our old way of doing things, we try all sorts of “squinting.” Eventually, though, we head to an expert (an eye doctor, a financial counselor, a team building consultant) to diagnose the problem accurately.  More often than not, the problem isn’t a personal or mental flaw — it’s simply that the situation has unexpectedly changed, and we have to change with it.

Needless to say, I wound up buying glasses. I didn’t like it at first.  I had been pretty attached to the idea that I was the only one in the family who had “good” eyes.  But sometimes reality demands that you try on something new, something uncomfortable (at first).  I’m fine with my glasses now; in fact, I kind of like them.  Best of all, it’s great seeing the world clearly again.

These times are requiring a lot of changes from us…whether you’re trying to run a business, feed your family, or revitalize your staff through corporate team challenges and management team building games.  Before you freak out and blame yourself, get an accurate diagnosis of the situation — and be willing to alter your perception. It’s no fun changing things, but believe, it’s better see life with 20/20 vision (with a little bit of help) than it is to stay where you are, trying to will the world to clear up.