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Are You Making Too Much Meaning?


We are both blessed and cursed to be meaning-making machines.

While being able to assume, generalize, and deduce allows us to function in the world, sometimes our need to make meaning causes limitations in ourselves, in others, and in our organizations. Our need to describe everything we encounter in a particular and specific way causes us to overlook important, sometimes critical possibilities. And the more certain we are about the meaning we make, the less agile and adaptable we become.

What if things just were, and we were able to relax our efforts around trying to figure everything out and labeling it? What if we could be more curious about what was unfolding or how it could be – not good or bad, but perhaps just different from what we expected?

By allowing meaning to flow and unfold, rather than forcing it into our own preconceived mental boxes, we may be pleasantly surprised about both the possibility and potentiality for everything that occurs.

The next time you find yourself trying to define or label something, or to give it a particular meaning, press pause. Step back, take a breath, turn your “machine” off, and begin to imagine all of the possibilities, rather than only those we can define.

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