Closing Your Eyes to See

“And closed my eyes to see” – Attics of My Life – Grateful Dead

What does the above lyric mean?

It’s a common motif in Grateful Dead music. Songs such as ‘Comes a Time’ (“…a blind man takes your hand, says don’t you see”) and ‘Casey Jones’ (“Got two good eyes but we still don’t see”) allude to looking past what we physically can see to get a better understanding of what we maybe should, or need to, see.

That is to say, reframing a situation in order to arrive at the potential solution.

For instance, you wouldn’t think that to see that you had to close your eyes until you reframe what seeing actually is. I am not sure that is what the Grateful Dead had in mind, but I am choosing to look at the lyrics from another view. I am reframing them in order to find a metaphor hidden between the lines.

So how does reframing help arrive at different answers?

Maybe we can start with how answers are arrived at in the first place.

Through the question.

Sometimes the way we ask the question puts blinders on the way we think about a solution. For example, look no further than a few paragraphs above.

“What does the above lyric mean?”

Asking the question in that way assumes that there could be a correct answer. One true meaning.

Personally, I don’t think the meaning of artful lyrics is so cut and dry. I believe we have our own experiences and stories which contribute to how we interpret the lyrics, and any understanding of it is true because it can be true to us individually.

So maybe the question should be “What does the above lyric mean to you?”

That question does not assume one correct answer. Any answer to that question is shaped by a person’s own experiences. Their answer can’t be wrong because it is true to how they feel.

Ask two people to explain how they feel about the same song or lyrics and you might get two completely different, yet equally correct answers.

Same for businesses solutions.

The next time you are trying to solve a business question and can’t reach an answer, perhaps look back to the question. What assumptions are baked into what is being asked? If the question is assuming something, is the assumption closing you off to potentially great value creating solutions? How can we reframe the question to eliminate those biases?

The best tactical first step?

Try closing your eyes, it could help you see.

Do you have experiences with reframing questions to help you see solutions? Want some links to great versions of the songs mentioned? Do you have any ideas for some posts you would want to write with me? Let me know in the comments!