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The Rubin’s vase illusion is something most of us have been exposed to at some point in our lives.  I love these types of images because they challenge our visual perception and memory … sometimes what you see isn’t as simple as what you first perceive.  What did you see the first time you encountered it, vase or face?  How long until you were able to perceive bVaseFaceoth?  This is a simplistic 2D example, but have you ever looked at some of the more abstract 3D versions?

I know along the journey of my professional career, there have been many instances where this lesson has come into play.  Perception isn’t always reality … there are two sides to the coin … etc.  Such was the case this week as I was sitting at our Sales & Account Management kickoff meeting listening to one of our senior sales executives share a story about mountains and valleys.

Last November, I shared one side of the mountain/valley story in my post Transitions, Mirrors, & Growth. Check it out for yourselves for the full detail, but to summarize I compared the highs and lows in life to the tree line in mountain ranges and the fertile soil in the valley.  When we are on top of our game and in the highs of life (tree line), we may not be challenging ourselves to continue to grow.  It’s during the hard times in life (the valleys) where hard lessons are learned, skills developed, and growth occurs.

I’ve used this analogy many times over the past several decades, both personally with friends/family who are going through lows, as well as professionally in coaching situations.  This week, I was the one who got coached … I was the one introduced to the other side of the coin.  It was interesting to hear the same story used but with an almost exact opposite perspective.  But even more interesting was my initial reaction to the story and how it evolved as I thought through the validity and context of what was being shared.

So the other side of the story shared at the kickoff meeting comes from Dr. Frank Dick, an athletics coach and motivational speaker from the UK.  Below is a synopsis of his perspective with a more detailed view found here.

There are two types of people in this world, valley people and mountain people. Valley people seek the calm and comfortable ground of shelter, safety and security. They may talk about change but do not want to be involved in it, especially if this means breaking from the routine of what has worked okay up until now.

Mountain people have decided valley life is not for them and seek to test ambition on the toughest climbs. They know there is a rich satisfaction in reaching the top and the fight needed to get there. They live for the test of change and enjoy the resilience required to bounce back from the bumps and bruises that come with the mountain territory.

Like I said, a completely different/opposite perspective.  So which side do you agree with?  The face or the vase?  Heads or tails? Mountain equals no growth or mountain equals change?

Admittedly my initial reaction to this second explanation was not at all positive.  But the more I thought about it, and the more I considered the context in which it was being shared, I think both can be appropriate.  Sometimes you need the adventurous type to scale the mountain … to conquer new territories … to discover the hidden opportunities.  Sometimes you need the nurturous type (yes, I realize this is not a real word) to nourish, sustain, and cultivate.

In the context of Sales and Account Management this is known as Hunters and Farmers. The link is to an Infographic showing the differences and key skills between the two.  And it makes the point having a balance between the two is necessary.

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