Krishna C. Kalva
I want to share a concept with you on observation that I recently listened to in a podcast. My takeaway from the podcast was how observation can be viewed as a tool that can lead us to take skillful actions. Observation is generally perceived as being passive, a state of no action. For example, not speaking, not writing, not moving, etc.
However, if we watch closely, we start to understand that observation is indeed a very active state. It is a state of experience to be fully present in the moment to better understand the situation and skillfully choose our actions. Once we start viewing observation as an experience unfolding, we start to pay closer attention to all the details involved, like our thoughts, feelings and emotions that will in turn lead us toward the desired outcomes through our chosen actions.
Both observation and action can be perceived as part of a toolkit that are interdependent and cannot be separated. Interdependence is the nature through which we purposefully begin to understand the details in a situation and how each detail contributed to the entire situation. Once we understand the nature of interdependence, our perspective about a given situation in hand changes by breaking away any preconceived judgement. (In one of my 2022 LTEN Focus on Training magazine articles, I discussed the concept of interdependence. You can read it here.)
The toolkit of observation and action can be applied in both our personal and professional lives.
In our professional lives, we are often involved in strategic projects that require specific outcomes to be achieved. It is a usual practice to label a project as a success or not depending on the outcomes achieved.
However, if we pay closer attention, we start to notice that project outcomes are the sum of unique experiences consisting of key observations and actions collectively undertaken by individuals and teams at different stages.
Each stage of the project acts as an anchor point, offering us a chance to reflect and analyze the project outcomes irrespective of the results achieved. If the project was a success, the toolkit of observation and action can provide the awareness to understand the different factors involved (i.e., planning, preparation, execution, etc.) in achieving the desired results.
The same awareness and understanding can be applied if the project was not a success. Imagine you are planning a vacation. One could easily think that getting to the vacation resort is the ultimate goal and success – but the experience starts in the preparation, the planning, the actual travel activity and the things and places you see on the way.
A successful outcome is not arriving at the goal – it is how you get there and what you experience on the way and on site.
By being aware, we gain expertise to visualize and understand the given situation at hand without any preconceived labels, anticipate potential roadblocks and adapt accordingly.
To put it into perspective, imagine an expert mechanic who can listen to the sound of an engine and predict what might be the potential problem and what actions might need to be taken to fix it. The mechanic leverages the wisdom of their experience gained over time through observation and skillful analysis of the engine sound to predict the potential problem and solution.
The goal of the concept is not to expect one to become an expert at observation. In fact, the goal is to offer perspective by remaining fully present while the experience is unfolding and actively embrace one’s thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Let me take your attention back to the original idea, observation and action. You may realize that the concept shared is not something new.
We all practice observation and action at a subconscious level without actively paying attention. However, the concept offers an open invitation to internalize and better understand our own thoughts and ask ourselves why we are feeling what we are feeling and the way we are feeling.
The questions we ask ourselves act as a gateway to facilitate our thought patterns and choose actions that are more skillful in achieving the desired results.
Krishna C. Kalva is learning solution manager at Siemens Healthineers. Email him at email@example.com.