Leverage Your Filter

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in having new eyes” -Marcel Proust

Have you ever taken the time to explore what influences how you see the world -- your filter?

Our filter informs our world, the decisions we make, and the actions we take. It is largely influenced by our experiences in the world – my filter as a white male born in MN in 1968 is very different than an Asian female born in 1990 growing up in Silicon Valley. Each of our filters are different and just as real as the next person’s. These differing perspectives often create conflict, frustration and division. Left unexplored, these differences can get in the way of quality relationships and prevent honest dialogue, learning and collaboration. If we pay attention to the things that impact our own and each other’s filters, we can expose where perspectives intersect (and what is getting in the way) and create new opportunity.

Your filter has great value in ensuring that you make decisions that line up with what you say you want. It keeps you safe. Your filter supports you in many ways, and if you are not aware of how it functions, it can get in the way of helping you achieve what you want in life. Just as your filter creates your interpretation of reality, it also confuses your reality as the truth. 

Humans are constantly bombarded with information, and at the same time we are hard-wired to determine quickly what does not line up or resonate with our current version of reality. As a result, when we are confronted with a different point of view, we feel threatened and are pushed outside of our comfort zones. Enter the Amygdala, the portion of the brain that, as Daniel Goleman explains in his book The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights “is the trigger point for emotional distress, anger, impulse, fear, and so on…” The Amygdala does not differentiate between a physical or an emotional threat and responds to both the same way. It is on 24/7 and its main job is to keep us safe. 

Increasing awareness of your filter can be uncomfortable because it can feel like a threat to who you are and what you care about. Your filter allows you to find your way in the world.  It is influenced by both your conscious and unconscious mind. You are taking in a high influx of data at any given time, yet you can only focus on a small amount each moment.  Your filter is constantly at work, deciding what is relevant. The reality of the world you see is not the whole reality; it is only part of it. It is your interpretation of reality, based on how your filter has screened data by looking for those elements that support your existing point of view. This filtering function directly impacts all of your decisions and the actions you take.

There are many contributors to determining your filter at any given time:
1. Historical experiences
2. Current mindset / mood
3. People in your sphere of influence 
4. Your beliefs
5. Language you use
6. Current patterns you have

Increasing your awareness and understanding of how each of these impacts how you see the world will open up choices for you to see new possibilities. It is a tough journey to challenge yourself – to look in the mirror to see what currently exists. What might have gotten you to your current level of success could be in the way of getting to where you want to go next. Your willingness to explore is crucial to your ability to learn, grow and cultivate the relationships that are most important to you and your life fulfillment.

Erik Gabrielson is a partner at Activ8. He will be our featured Think & Link speaker on Februrary 18th. To request an invite, email Matt.


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