What would you notice if you looked at your neighborhood as a tourist?
When I travel, I tend to take many pictures of the beauty surrounding me in the new environment. These pictures include sunrises and sunsets, vegetation, a food popular in that culture, animals, bugs and unique road signs.
I go overboard with pictures everywhere except in my community because I am used to my surroundings and take them for granted. I do not truly appreciate the beauty where I live until someone points out my unique surroundings.
In years past, I have noticed more of our beauty when friends visit or comment on our photos. My husband’s friend from Oklahoma took an obsessive amount of pictures of cornfields while he visited. Another friend from Europe wanted to see a red barn. My Hawaiian friend was jealous that we live in Iowa. Her goal is to work on a farm someday and tend to the livestock. My friend from Texas constantly obsesses over our lush, green grass in my social media posts.
I do not always see the beauty I live in; however, I appreciate witnessing things that are not common in my everyday world. Because of comments and envy from my friends, I have noticed more of the beauty where I live.
In the spring, I appreciate the color contrast in the farm fields after the ground has been freshly plowed. The brown dirt next to bright green grass and trees creates vibrant art. I find beauty in a field full of rolled hay bales in the summer. The symmetry creates a picture-perfect beauty from the road as I pass by. And as I sat at my computer and wrote this article, I gave myself permission to pause and enjoy the stunning Iowa sunset this spring evening.
This life lesson has connected to my business world. In leadership classes, I teach that “we do not see things for the way they are. We see for the way we are.”
One way to avoid this habit is by inviting others to share their perspectives. This past month I have been reminded to be a tourist in the online learning program that I am building.
Being the creator and developer of this online program buries me in the details of the software and the content. It has been unexpectedly challenging to see this website as a user. Like traveling, I have found value in inviting my “foreigner” friends to journey with me through the virtual experience. These foreigners have not seen the program yet, so they have no visual expectations. Everything is new and fresh.
Some of the recommendations that my foreign friends have shared include color adjustments, typo corrections and word choices. One particular word choice suggestion surprised me.
My friend asked why a button on an opening page was labeled “View Products.” This button makes sense to me as “product” is a menu option that I select as a developer when I edit my content. But it does not make sense to the user. I am so deep in the program that I could not think of another name for this button. My friend offered “Start Here” as a solution. So simple. Yet, I could not come up with this option.
What do you need to look at from a different angle? Maybe it is a project you are directing or the team you are leading. Have you considered what it looks and feels like to have you as a leader? Just like traveling or creating an online program, you may need to recruit others to help you see your environment differently.
We need people in our lives. They will give us a new perspective to fully appreciate our surroundings and opportunities. Enjoy the beauty that engulfs you today. Maybe even be a tourist and take a few pictures of your community to share with your friends afar.