I Spy

Sometimes it’s all just a matter of what you focus on.

My children like to play a game called “I Spy” while we’re driving around in the car. You probably remember the game as well. One person selects a random object. Something you’re sure the other folks in the car won’t guess. Then you let everyone know what color it is.

“I spy, with my little eye, something … blue.”

And the guessing game begins. There are different strategies to keeping the guessing game going. You can select a common colored item and try to hide your object in the sea of white, blue or gray items. You can also pick something more obscure and force your guessers to use their powers of observation.

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon when we chose the second option. It’s trickier than it apperas. “I spy something purple.” This one should be easy.  There’s just not that much purple to pick from. Find the purple thing … win. Next player.

Purple … purple. “Uh, the insigina on the radio?”


“Huummm. Mommys hair clip?”


“The digital readout on the thermometer? Your sister’s swim goggles? The letters on my t-shirt?”

“No, No and nooooo.”

Wait, where did all this purple stuff come from? This one was supposed to be a gimmie.

There never really was a lack of purple. We just wern’t looking for purple stuff. It happens to all of us. We see what we’re looking for and delete most of everything else. We delete millions of little details each moment of our lives and most of it we delete without ever even considering it. The purple was always there. I just hadn’t asked my brain to look for it.

And that brings up an interesting point about how we feel about our work.

When you show up for work each morning, what do you ask your brain to look for? Do you ask yourself to look for the learning opportunity. Are you seeking out the patient contact that might enrich your life or deepen your understanding of your job, or your world? Are you anxious to find the conversation, interaction, skill or opportunity that will fulfill you?

Maybe instead you’ve gotten in the habit of looking for the stuff that validates the negitive side of your job. Perhaps you’re seeking out why management is making the wrong decisions today. What memo is going get you angry. Or you’re looking for the call you didn’t want, the partner you don’t like and the unfulfilling conversations, interactions and conflicts that have been giving meaning and purpose to your inner dissatasfaction for years.

Whatever you’ve been looking for I’ll bet you’ve found it. That’s just how the game works. It’s all there and it has been all along. Eventually you find what you’re looking for and the game moves on to a new player and a new turn. The good news is, you get to decide what to look for today.

Winner! … next player.


Related Articles:

Five Rules For One Shift

Get To vs. Have To

Stop Whining


  1. I like the way you think. We forget that it is us who controls our destiny. I can have a great day, or a terrible one, it’s all up to me. Every day. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. A. Barraza says:

    I think I just found my new attitude. Look for the positive. Thank you!

  3. Steve Whitehead says:

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