One of the ongoing discoveries in my life has been the concept that reality and the truth about it is different for everyone. Whether I ask people what they think of a workshop or the school their kids go to or very plain things as the weather, I hear different (oftentimes surprising to me) realities. Although they all look at the same reality, people see, value, dislike different parts of it.
I like to picture reality as a 3-D puzzle. Some of the pieces of the puzzle are in the center, very obvious and visible for everyone, some are more on the side and others seem to be a bit lost. These are the ideas (perspectives on reality) that are not easily seen. Diverse thinking is needed to see all parts of reality.
By observing, inquiring, pondering, searching and asking for different perspectives of any given reality and waiting for my brain to synthesize I make better sense of things that happen and better decisions. To feed my ability to see the richness of reality I need to be in a certain mindset; I like to call it my discovery mode. Whether it is in a coaching session, in a team workshop or in a conversation with my kids, I usually create more outcome if I am in my discovery mode than not. That discovery mode decreases when I put more pressure on myself to get things done.
What helps me to come, be or stay in my discovery mode is the explicit thought "there is no such thing as the truth (or reality)". I like to start my workshops with the invitation to adopt this assumption just for the day and whenever you think "I don't agree", to breath, think again, open your mind and ask a question to discover a part of reality that you are not yet seeing.
The opposite of the discovery mode is the judgment mode. It is a mode in which we are ready to make quick judgments and decisions based on little information. This mode has been pivotal to human survival. Our brain stem, the oldest part of our brain, is programmed to make very quick decisions whether to fight or flight to ensure survival. Remember: our brain scans the environment 5 times per second whether it is safe to make a fight or flight decision.
Both modes have their purposes; it's not one or the other reality that is true or solemnly useful! We need both to live our lives and get stuff done. The discovery mode is useful when you need to activate creativity and resourcefulness of yourself, a relationship, a team or organisation. The judgment mode is needed when quick action is needed, e.g. in a crisis, chaos or when nobody dares to bring closure.