Our hilltop determines how we perceive things. The second all-embracing activity that hilltops govern is what we give out, what we broadcast. We are all brilliant broadcasters. Broadcasting is something we do all the time, something that we cannot help doing. Even the strong silent types among us are constantly broadcasting they are strong silent types! Everything we do – the jobs we have, the cars
As we have already demonstrated, how these broadcasts will be received by someone else is another matter, and something we will address when we discuss the difficulties of communicating successfully across the chasm between different world views. Someone sitting quietly in a group discussion, perhaps out of shyness or a lack of confidence, can very easily be perceived as aloof or disinterested. Others who feel keen and enthusiastic can appear dominating or insensitive – it all depends on who is doing the receiving.
If you have experienced any kind of interview you will know the litany of things to consider with regard to dress, manner, eye contact etc., and how important those things are in making an impression. There is a considerable amount of research which suggests that decisions are made in interviews within the first couple of minutes, the rest of the time being spent gathering data to confirm the initial judgment. While many of us acknowledge this phenomenon, we tend to treat interviews as special events, i.e. times when we need to make a good impression.
The truth is that we make impressions all the time, on everyone we contact. It’s just the circumstance that makes them seem special. This is particularly true in the case of giving opinions about things. Opinions are very revealing because they are direct expressions of our hilltop, our point of view. To plagiarise Newton, for every opinion there is an equal and opposite opinion, and you only have to watch a television debate to see the truth of this statement: the more contentious the topic, the more polarised the hilltops are.
Blind Men and the Elephant Story
It was six men of Hindustan To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), That each by observation Might satisfy his mind.
- The first approached the Elephant And happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side, At once began to bawl, ‘Bless me it seems the Elephant Is very like a wall!’
- The second feeling of his tusk, Cried ‘Ho, what have we here? So very round and smooth and sharp? To me ‘tis mighty clear This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a spear.’
- The third approached the animal And happening to take The squirming trunk within his hands, Thus boldly up and spake; ‘I see’ quoth he, ‘the Elephant Is very like a snake!’
- The fourth stretched out his eager hand And felt about the knee: ‘What most this mighty beast is like, ‘Tis mighty plain’ quoth he, ‘Tis clear enough the Elephant Is very like a tree.’
- The fifth who chanced to touch the ear, Said: ‘Even the blindest man Can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can, This marvel of an Elephant Is very like a fan!’
- The sixth, no sooner had begun About the beast to grope, Than, seizing on the swinging tail That fell within his scope, ‘I see’ quoth he, ‘the Elephant Is very like a rope.’
And so these men of Hindustan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong. Though each was partly in the right and all were in the wrong! J.G. Saxe (1816 – 1887)
The notion of rightness
The question we are left with is ‘So who’s right?’ It is our experience that most people believe that if others saw things in the same way as they do, the world would be a far happier place! Are they in a minority, or do you think that too? We have yet to meet anyone who believes that the way they see the world is wrong. We all believe our experience of the world to be true – we have to, it is the only experience we have. Of course, there are people who would challenge the notion that ‘I am right and the rest are wrong to some degree’, and accept that the views of others are not wrong, simply different but equally valid. As discussions develop, such challengers often insist that their liberal tolerance of different yet equally valid perspectives is right! A hilltop that is prepared to accept other perspectives as equal and not to claim it has cornered the market on truth is, they claim, the right hilltop to stand on!
Basically, people change either through awareness or through pain. If a person has fixated on a particular hilltop, it may take some traumatic event to unlock the doors and allow the possibility of change, for it is difficult for most people to give up something that they have spent their lives developing. Habit, custom, tradition and history all offer a measure of comfort. Change through awareness is a safer, though not necessarily easier, route because change demands some understanding of who you are, where you want to be, and how to get there. The major focus for this blog is on raising your awareness of who you are, what your hilltop is and how it shapes your life and, importantly, your approach to the work you do. It will enable you to assess your predominant drives, strengths and limitations. It will allow you to start understanding something of what makes other people tick, so that you can gather sufficient insight into their hilltops to aid you in your dealings with them. It will allow you to accept that we are all different, understand why we see things differently and take the opportunity to stand back and question our own perception so gaining enlightenment.
- We all stand on a unique hilltop from which we view the world.
- Our hilltop is built from our life experience. It has at its core our values and beliefs: they determine what we like and dislike, value or reject, judge as right and wrong.
- Our hilltop determines how we interpret information and events.
- Our hilltop determines how and what we broadcast to the world.
- We all believe that the way we see things is true.
- A function of a hilltop is to resist unwanted change.
- Hilltops can and do change through growth, maturation, awareness or pain.