Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Magic Cap That Allows One to Observe Himself Objectively

Last summer I visited my friend in Japan. My friend had become independent by starting his own business about one year ago. When I walked into his house, he was sitting in his living room looking at several caps and hats that were lined up in front of him. It was a Saturday morning and he was preparing to go to his office, trying to select a hat to wear to work. We decided to go to his office together. Oddly, he did not end up wearing the cap he had selected to wear. Instead, he was carrying the cap in his hand. I asked him why he did not wear the cap he had selected, and he answered that the cap had some special meaning for his business.

We went into his office where several of his partners were waiting for him. They began to discuss business. Since the company had first started it had not been financially stable enough to justify large spending, therefore the discussion was intense. After an hour or so, my friend told his partners to take a break. He stood up from his chair and put on the cap he had selected at home. He then walked out of the meeting room. Ten minutes later he came back, still wearing his cap, and announced that the meeting would resume. In the previous session of the meeting, he had been stubborn and adhered strongly to his opinions. After coming back, however, he was more flexible and willing to listen to his colleagues' opinions.

In contrast to the first session, the meeting ended amicably due to his flexibility. Collectively, they agreed on a productive conclusion why the company's spending had shown a significant limitation.

After observing his behavior during the meeting, I was curious about the meaning of the cap. When I asked him about his actions after the meeting, he laughed at my curiosity. He explained to me he needed to create a different persona who could observe himself objectively from a different perspective. He had tried to do a self-critique before without the cap technique, but was not able to be objective judging his own opinion, attitude and behavior.

During a weekend meeting with his partners, one of them attended wearing a baseball cap. This person sat next to my friend and put his cap on the conference table. My friend, without thinking, grabbed the cap and put it on. To his surprise, he was able to observe himself objectively while wearing that cap. Since then, he continued to buy caps and hats to become a different persona in order to objectively observe himself.

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