The mind’s eye – has a mind of it’s own
As a project manager you’re in the relationship management business, forming/building teams establishing working relationships with bosses etc. So when you first meet someone how much of your first impression is based on how they look? For example, how would your relationship develop if you couldn’t establish if you were talking to a male or female?
I want to describe a revelation, a point in time when I learned something about myself, something I’m still coming to terms with. This might be more about me than about project management but it does help to explain my perspective on life the universe and project management and I suspect that it might be relevant to the average Joe as well.
As a student living on tertiary assistance a couple of part time jobs and the generosity of others, entertainment was a night in, watching a TV movie. The movie was called ‘Second Serve’, a story about Renee Richards, a successful tennis player who had had a sex change and wanted to continue to play but now as a woman. Before you ask; no there was nothing else on. I didn’t own a ‘video recorder’ (yes it was a while ago) and I couldn’t afford to go out.
It was the mid 1980s and the topic was somewhat controversial but I considered myself a progressive thinker. The movie danced around the subject tactfully. I don’t recall it being particularly entertaining but it was brilliantly performed and shot. I sat through the entire movie thinking kindly, if patronising thoughts about Renee. I was thinking that the surgery was redundant. I don’t have a problem accepting a feminine personality regardless of genitalia and I don’t care if you’re more comfortable in a dress but (of Renee) I thought, ‘You you’re still obviously a man’.
It wasn’t until the credits were scrolling across the screen that the realisation struck – that the person I’d been looking at all along, that I was so sure was ‘still a man’ was not in fact Renee Richards, but the actor Vanessa Regrave who played the role of both the male and female versions of Renee. Not only was Vanessa Redgrave born a woman but she was a highly acclaimed female star of stage screen and television.
It’s not like I don’t know how movies work and that I didn’t know I was looking at actors but once I got into the story the line between reality and the fantasy movie world became blurry. It was quite humbling to realise that I’d been so completely duped; to realise the extent to which my perception of another human being could be so inaccurate, skewed by circumstance and a change of cloths .
Not judging others starts with not pre-judging others and apparently it doesn’t come as naturally to me as my ego would lead me to believe but I’ve been working on it for many years now and I am starting to see the benefits. My own world has become a more pleasant place.