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How to enhance Perception?


Whatever happens at work, I perceive it as a threat to my progress. When my peer gets promoted, I feel less. When there are structural changes in the organisation, I see it as a halt to my growth. When my team misses a small detail, I feel they are against my success. What happens because of all this is that my mind is always clouded. I don't have space to think clearly. What can I do to be more open to what is happening around me?
                                ~ Senior Leader, Tech

To perceive is to be able to

  • become aware through senses

  • regard, understand or interpret

It is highly influenced by

  • sensitivity of our senses

  • calmness of our mind

What can muddle it are

  • our thoughts

  • our feelings

In their book, "On Purposeful systems", the authors, Russell L. Ackoff & Fred E. Emery talk about a model of perception as below

purposeful systems

Picture Courtesy: On Purposeful systems

As we can infer, when life happens around us (Stimulus) we use our sensitivity (senses) to become aware (react) of it and then use our sensibility (sense making) to respond.

When this process is short-circuited, either because of decreased sensitivity or decreased sensibility, what we perceive can be distorted.

What can one do to enhance perception?

  1. Working on the edge

The 5 sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin) are the gateway to our perception. Maintaining them in pristine condition is important.

If you notice a slight difference in their working, pay attention and take care of them.

Ensure they are working at the right sensitivity as they should. Once they are, place your attention on the sensory input (mindfulness). Pay attention to what they are sensing in the moment.


2. Working on the core

The mind is the “meaning making” mechanism that we have to make sense of the world around us.

Even if the senses are sensitive, if the mind is clouded and makes a wrong meaning, perceptiveness will go for a toss.

Rituals to calm the mind including slow walks, meditation, prayer, gratitude journalling, noticing one's thoughts etc, help to keep it centred and ready for life.

If you constantly struggle with your thoughts, it is time to pause, reflect and implement mind+body practices like yoga, Taichi, Reiki etc.

Constantly bringing your mind back to the present moment when and as it wanders, creates a habit for improving sensibility.

3. Integrating for perceptiveness

Sensitivity & Sensibility have to integrate for appropriate response.

Having one alone does not complete perception. Having sensitivity alone will lead to just a reaction instead of a response.

Beginner's mind is needed for this integration. Beginner's mind holds in itself infinite possibility instead of set outcomes. One can get into a beginner's mind by letting go of the baggage / story in one's head and looking at the context like a child.

What would you do differently to enhance your perception?

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