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What do you see when you look at the picture above? … Do you see danger or do you see a beautiful creation? Or do you see something else altogether? You have probably figured out that the image is a picture of a shark. Well, a slightly edited picture of a shark. What you may not know is that the shark is a Thresher Shark.
Malapascua Island is a tiny island just off the northern tip of Cebu in the Philippine Islands. Visitors from all over the world come to this tiny island because of its beauty. They come because it is largely undiscovered. They come because it is an adventure. But mostly, they come to view the “thresher.” There are very few places in the world where you can view a thresher. In Malapascua, the success rate is very high. Though there are never any guarantees, if you go out 10 mornings to see the thresher, you’ll likely see one 7 or 8 times. And you might see several.
The reason the thresher comes to Malapascua is it’s a “cleaning station”, a place where smaller fish “clean” the shark. Though this may seem odd to us, it is very common behavior in the marine world. Sharks, mantas and other marine life like to get cleaned and regularly visit “cleaning stations.”
You may think all of this is cool or you may not care. You may not even like sharks. That’s ok, hang with me. The point is not whether or not you like sharks. The point is not whether or not your find the thresher, with its large tail and big black eye, amazing (as I do). The point is that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” You see something. Others may see something else. When you look at the world around you, what do you see? When I look at the thresher, I see a long tail. I see God’s handiwork. I see an amazing creation. Do you?
Whether you’re a parent, a sister, an uncle, an executive, a pastor, or anything else, how you view people is important. Do you have eyes to see? Do you see the potential in others? Do you see past their outward appearance? Do you see their heart? Their capability?
A story I love is when David was selected as king of Israel over his older brother though he was only a boy at the time. He wasn’t he strongest or the tallest. Yet he was selected and anointed as king because God looked at what David would become. He knew he was more than a shepherd boy.
When you look at your children, do you see them as they are today or as they will be? Or can be? What do you see when you look at employees? Family members? … What do you see when you look in the mirror? Hopefully you see your own potential (as well as the potential of others).
Have eyes to see. Eyes to see the potential in others. Eyes to see the potential in yourself. Look past outward appearance. Look for positive character traits. Look for a foundation to build upon.
“Shaping” (the process of growing others via positive reinforcement of incremental behavioral steps that are directionally correct) is an amazing concept and its appropriate application can yield world-class results. Yet there is a place for seeing the potential in others and selecting wisely. You will be impressed with the results of shaping. You will be blown away by the results of shaping coupled with visionary selection, selection that comes from having eyes to see.
You may not like sharks. You may not even like water. But please be on the lookout for the “threshers” around you. Have eyes to see. Identify the threshers and then pour into them. Grow them. Shape them. Encourage them. Love them. Then sit back and watch the harvest. … All organizations (from large global corporations to small family) can benefit from talent development and building the bench. You don’t have time to invest in everyone. How will select those on whom to focus?
Were you a “diamond in the rough?” Did someone take a chance on you? Do you look past the outward appearance of others? Do you have eyes to see?
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.