I See You

One of my favorite movie quotes of all times is, “I see you” from the movie Avatar. It’s easy when watching the movie to assume this phrase is a simple greeting. But it’s actually derived from the tribal greeting, “Sawubona,” which literally translates to, “I see you,” and means, “I bear witness to your person and humanity.” Your response to this deeply meaningful greeting would be, “Sikhona,” which means, “I am here.”

By recognizing me, you brought me into existence.

This everyday equivalent of, “hello, how are you?” and “Good, thanks” exchange is so poignant because it literally means that until you are seen…until you are known…you don’t exist.

What if we applied to this approach to all our relationships? What if we looked at each other with a filter of truly knowing the other—their feelings, emotions, motivations?

I used to be COO of a company and our temporary receptionist was exceptional. In a simple, “Good morning, how are you doing?” conversation, I learned she was going to school for accounting. That her mom owned a sporting goods store where she did all of the accounting growing up. She didn’t just like it—she loved and was passionate about it. I called my HR manager and had her transferred to our accounting department that day.

The reality of being seen.

Taking a few minutes to recognize her story allowed this young woman to move fully into her own existence. Now, this doesn’t always happen, but if we don’t at least try to inquire and care about people’s lives, we will never know the fullness of their potential. Helping people reach their full potential…that’s the power of really seeing somebody. That’s the power of leadership.

What kind of employee do you think she was? If you said, “a rock star,” you’d be correct. Every person has the power and capacity to excel. But how often in our careers are we actually exactly where we are supposed to be, doing what we love to do?

The reason Quest2 Consulting does assessments and takes time to understand individual styles and motivators is because we want to help place employees in the right position. We train leaders to see disconnects and gaps so individuals can adjust and resolve them.

Because if you’re not looking, you’re not going to see anyone. Imagine the impact seeing can have on your organization.

And if you can’t, don’t worry. Quest2 Consulting can give you sight. 


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michael burke