“What we’re thinking about – what we’re focused on – filters the world around us so aggressively that it literally shapes what we see.”  This quote comes from a report by Alex Spiegel on NPR that caught our attention.

Before we go any further, take 90 seconds to watch Daniel Simon’s famous YouTube video below.  The task is to count the number of times the people dressed in white shirts pass the ball.

This is an experiment in selective attention.  Here is the question:  did you see the gorilla?  About 50% of those who watch the video for the first time do not see the gorilla.  After we see the gorilla, we cannot not see it in repeat viewings.  Knowing it is there, alters what we see.

In The Power of TED* we use FISBE to frame the Victim and Creator Orientations. What we Focus on engages an emotional Inner State, which drives BEhavior.  As Spiegel reported, what we focus on shapes what we see and how we move through our daily experience.

If we live and work from a Victim Orientation, our focus is on the problems that we face.  And when we focus on only seeing problems, we may miss seeing opportunities.  Being problem-focused engages anxiety and/or fear and drives reactive behavior.  When we are focused on, and reacting to, problems we can easily miss those opportunities and ignore (or not see) what is going well—just like so many who missed seeing the obvious gorilla.

We know that adopting a Creator Orientation is more resourceful and empowering.    As Creators, our focus is on the outcome we choose to manifest, which taps into an inner state of passion and we take generative Baby Steps toward the outcome (which may involve solving problems).

However, a Creator Orientation is not exempt from selective intention. We may be so focused on the outcome we are creating that we deny, minimize or explain away some of the current realities we face – including problems that need to be addressed in service to our desired outcome.

That is why collaboration and co-creating are so important.  Multiple perspectives and considering the viewpoints of others can help us meet the challenge of our selective attention and not overlook the “gorillas” in our midst.