Years ago I learned to scuba dive in Cozumel. In many ways it was the trip of a lifetime. One of the most memorable elements to me however was the sanguine response of my scuba instructor every time I asked a question. “Depende,” he would respond rarely ever changing his demeanor.
At the time I was annoyed at this consistent and, to me, incomplete answer. But with time many things become clearer.
Over the weekend I had coffee with a friend and I was telling her about something I’d seen at church and how stressed out the family seemed. She smiled and said, “depends.” What? Feels like I’m back on the open water with my instructor bobbing nonchalantly.
What these two people separated by time and place were trying to tell me was this: everything isn’t always as it seems.
After a career in HR and employee relations suspending judgment until all the facts are in, you would think this would be more natural to me in my personal life. Yet, away from the structure of work I recognize that I still try, as humans do, to neatly categorize life’s experiences to make sense of this thing called life and in so doing often apply reaction instead of reflection.
But interpreting and understanding the meaning of life’s foibles takes time. And depends on your perspective.
Here then a short list of suggestions in developing the art of depende:
- Stay immersed in the moment. Our tendency to use drive-by, sound-bite clips as a proxy for living leaves us shortchanged. Immerse yourself in work and play to get more of the experience. In other words, don’t be a spectator in your own life
- Say less. With every passing day there’s a new app, platform, product or venue that encourages us to shout out. Yet concurrently fewer of us actually listen. Develop the skill of real listening and you will be amazed at what you can learn, and how readily people stop shouting and start conversing
- Ask why. So often in our rush to get things done and move to the next we forget this key word: why? Asking why in a sincere and continuous way helps break past the patter and platitudes to increasingly deeper levels of meaning. Why gives pause and allows reflection – reflection beats reaction
- Change perspective. My friend and my instructor were asking me to consider and look at things a different way. Rather than face life with a fixed mindset to take life on much like a ship rolling with the swells yet progressing nevertheless. To recognize the meaning of life depends. To catch the wind you’ve got to shift your sail
In work as well as play its important to be open to new (and old) emerging thought as our environment continues to shift, change and evolve. Want to be effective at home as well as the office? Drop rigidity and adopt perspective.
After all, the way we see things depends.