Subtleties

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Malapascua. Sunsets. Sunrises. Colors. … I’ve written about this paradise before. It is one of my favorite places on earth. Malapascua. A small gem in the Visayas (central Philippines). It is a picturesque island. Unassuming. Beautiful. Quaint. I’ve yet to talk with a Malapascua visitor who hasn’t had an amazing time.

In the evenings, the sunsets are spectacular. There’s no other way to describe it. Yes, I exaggerate a lot in my writing and in person. It’s part of my personality and comes as no surprise to those who know me well. I enjoy light-hearted, banter, and joking. Story-telling. Fact and fiction. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that Malapascua is a magical place with beautiful, breath-taking sunsets.

When people look at my sunsets pictures from Malapascua, they generally ask two questions. First they ask, did you ‘photoshop’ those, implying that the picture is deceiving and really didn’t look like that in person. In other words, you can create anything, even a breath-taking sunset, in Photoshop, right? They immediately follow up with, what kind of camera do you use? Though the answer is a Canon S95 (a moderately priced point-and-shoot, not an expensive DSLR or medium format), any camera would be capable of taking great sunset photos in Malapascua.

In person, the colors of the sunset change before your eyes over the course of 30 minutes. Reds become orange and then yellow and then blue. The shimmering light reflected on the water changes as the shades of colors in the sky changes. It’s like a living piece of art. One of my favorite bits is watching the interaction between the various shades of reds or blues. A keen observer can easily notice five or more shades. Some of these shade differences are dramatic, others are subtle. You have to look closely, but as you do, you see more shades. Instead of two shades of blue, you’ll notice eight. Nine shades of red instead of one.

The same is true for the world-class leader. She notices subtleties. He observes those small differences that others miss. Seeing the subtle shades leads to a richer experience with the world around us. It makes life more vibrant, more real. It’s like the difference between watching a movie in 2D versus 3D. Color versus black and white.

Seeing subtleties also allows us to serve better. We see the hurt in others and proactively reach out. We notice emotional changes in ourselves that enable us to take a break and clear our heads. We can respond more quickly to observed moves by our competitors, to the needs of our family & friends, and to our neighbors.

Developing the ability to see subtleties is not easy. Some tips that have worked for me. Start my day with quiet time (prayer, Bible study, meditation, deep-breathing). Develop compassion for those around me. The more concerned I am about others, the better I see their emotional shades. Develop an interest in some type of art. Painting. Photography. Music. Develop a realistic time-management system. A crowded day adds stress and leaves little time for others or self. Hurried people are not observant people.

Do you notice subtleties? How is your sight? Are you a keen observer of the world around you, self and others?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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