Leonardo da Vinci said that humans, “Look without seeing, listen without hearing, touch without feeling…and talk without thinking.”
He said this hundreds of years ago.
Since then, our society has advanced by leaps and bounds. Isn’t it true, though, we still see without seeing, listen without hearing, touch without feeling …and talk without thinking?
Simply said, humans have advanced in knowledge but not awareness.
With babies, it’s the opposite. They are born with awareness but no knowledge. As babies turn into kids, sometimes they lose awareness as they gain knowledge.
Knowledge has great value and I’m not knockin’ learning it! DaVinci said that knowledge comes through our perceptions. Our perceptions are heightened by awareness. So our ability to obtain knowledge comes through our perceptions.
Kids need awareness to learn. Schools and teachers, however, are not usually set up to help kids cultivate the skill of seeing what they are seeing and hearing what they are listening to. In fact, most grownups don’t even notice how aware kids are. They don’t know how to help them hold onto their awareness, and they certainly aren’t aware of how UNaware they, themselves are!
If you think you are aware I’ll show you an example that proves you most likely are not. Have you ever seen a photo of yourself that someone else took of you when you weren’t paying attention? Were you shocked by the result?
Probably that has happened to you at some time in your life. Now I’m not talking about a ‘selfie’ when you are all posed and at the perfect angle and you take 30 shots and pick the best one…(not that I’ve done this!!)…I’m talking about a random, spontaneous, unposed shot that you did not know was being taken.
I can explain why you were shocked by how you looked. Every day when you look in the mirror your mind idealizes your own image unknowingly. Your mind’s eye corrects for asymmetry. You have an image in your own mind how you look and when you see your reflection in the mirror your brain projects this image onto the surface.
In un-posed photos we are confronted with how we actually look, without the self-correction. Most people are disappointed with their image because the idealized image they see in their own edited version is much better. True awareness is seeing yourself just as you are (asymmetry and all!) rather than better or worse than you are.
If you still think your awareness is acute as a child’s, you can take the test below to see. And, even if you do have complete faith in your awareness, geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci were geniuses because they were constantly training their senses to improve them (click here to learn how he did this), like an athlete or gymnast working out their muscles at the gym.
You can do two things I know of to improve your observation skills. The first is to draw. Sit with a sketch pad and pencil or chalk in front of a scene, any scene (it could be a house, landscape, or bowl of fruit) and try to draw as accurately as possible.
You can also train your ability to see others and yourselves accurately with the Communication Transformer ‘Acknowledgement’. When we teach this tool in workshops it seems too simple to be powerful.
Trust me, learning to see accurately and say what you see, is the most powerful tool you can implement! Great leaders, great parents, and great salesmen are able to build trust, gain cooperation and give clear instructions based on their ability to see and verbalize with precision. To train this tool, please observe the tutorial videos on the topic here.
Da Vinci based all his beliefs and theories on his core value of ‘Saper Vedere’ or ‘knowing how to see’. If he were alive today, I’ve no doubt he would suggest we do the same.
Put a check next to the statements that describe you, then add them up at the end. Answer the questions as honestly as possible and reflect on your answers. No matter your score, you can always train yourself to be more observant!
-I know the color of all my friends’ eyes.
-I look out into the far horizon and up to the sky at least once a day.
-I am good at describing a scene in detail.
-I like doodling and drawing.
-Friends would describe me as alert.
-I am sensitive to subtle changes in lighting.
-I can picture things clearly in my mind’s eye.