My Kindle gives me access to thousands of titles, however there is something tangible about a book I prefer.

Book shelves line many walls in our home and from time to time, something I haven’t read in a while begs to be taken down, Incognito by David Eagleman – Incognito was that book.

In the second chapter, The Testimony of the Senses, Eagleman focuses on the Act of Seeing. I was reading it as if for the first time, so I read it twice. There was so much to what Eagleman was exploring on the connection between what we see and what our brains perceive that related to a recent experience I’d asked Laurie* to help me with. Robby a seemingly docile, quiet and lovely mare turned into a rodeo queen when saddled. I was completely missing something.

Eagleman suggests “the act of seeing is so natural to us that is it difficult to appreciate the vastly sophisticated machinery underlying the process.” He explores the common belief that what we see as a faithful representation is rather a compilation of what our eyes capture and our brains complete. Eagleman paints a compelling argument about why it is so easy to miss the obvious.

Like the magician’s sleight of hand, we are looking for what we see, not what might actually be. He refers to this as “change blindness” where we are only seeing a fraction of what is, the remainder we fill in with assumptions. No matter how many ways I attempted to view the problem with Robby, I had been looking for the same thing.

Eagleman used the “multistable” stimulus of the cube drawing to illustrate how our vision is active. We can only see one perspective of the cube at a time, so while I saw one face of the cube, Laurie saw the other. The moment Laurie took Robby’s lead rope, her perspective became clear to me.

From a different vantage point I was able to see what had been there all along. It also reinforced the importance of learning through sharing, connecting with others and finding mentors. If our goal is to be the best horseman or leader we can be, we can’t operate in isolation. We need others to help us see what we cannot.

So my kindle for one type of reading, audio books fill the space in a long drive but a book is something I find holding onto makes a difference on how I interpret the words. I believe Eagleman’s words capture it perfectly.

“There’s a striking point here; nothing has changed on the page, so the change has to be taking place in your brain.”

* Laurie is of course Laurie Pettifer – my fabulous Wrangler with a Difference who is such a great part of every The Natural Leader program

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