The Uncommon Iris of Empathy

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Did you know that your iris pattern is unique? So much so that not even your left iris matches your right iris. That’s how different we are as humans, even within ourselves there are things that seem identical but when we take a closer look they’re not.

I have a child who is misunderstood by everyone for the simple fact that he thinks so differently. The way he looks at the world, I’m fascinated. The things he says, I’m utterly intrigued by. But this, the world struggles to accept. I truly believe he was sent to teach us, to bring us this beautifully gilded reminder that all human beings are different.

If every iris pattern is unique then it’s impossible for two people to see things the exact same way. This all may sound simple to you; but if we really grasped this, then why do we humans find ourselves in such turmoil all the time due to inevitable misunderstandings with other people?


Misunderstandings happen all the time and they ruin our relationships in life. I feel that society does an especially poor job of understanding its members when they are ages 0 to 18.

There’s no guidebook to being a parent, being a girlfriend, being a sister. There are products people try to sell us, but none of these retreats, books, psychological counseling sessions were really custom designed for our own psyches. None of these so-called solutions were made in the imprint of the brain that it is designed to help.

The best person to teach you how to understand other people better is you. Your own brain knows best how to expand its cognition, better than anyone else can teach you.

One of the benefits of getting older is that I’ve had my share of ruined relationships. I’m not going to sit here and say that even now, that I’m the best. I’ll admit that sometimes I’m so wrapped up in my work and my family that I don’t always pay the closest attention to understanding people who aren’t at the center of what I have going on at any given moment. But I can say that going through the experience of having a misunderstood child, I’ve learned to stop and ask myself when I am having a hard time handling another person.

Say these questions to yourself, and then let your brain figure them out.

  • What specific aspect of this person’s behavior don’t I understand?
  • What is the sequence of events that led up to the display of this behavior that I don’t understand?
  • What does this person possibly sense, even subconsciously, that I don’t “get” about them. In other words, how does this person feel that I am misunderstanding them?
  • What are the steps I need to take to understand the person better?
  • What did I observe about this person’s body language that their words didn’t say?
  • Is it possible that this person and I are too incompatible, too different, that I will never ever, no matter how hard I try, possibly be able to understand him or her enough so that our relationship is okay?

Where the iris of empathy focuses

So much in our industry we focus on the wrong questions. I mean, just look at the typical topics that keynote speakers grandstand about at conferences:

  • Mutual funds vs. ETFs.
  • What’s the best LinkedIn message to send someone? Aren’t there magic messages that will make anyone automatically want to meet with me?
  • How do I optimize SEO?
  • Active vs. passive management?

All of these questions seem so primary and that is because it is what the industry vendors with something to sell you want you to focus on. And so here’s what I’m trying to sell you on, and I sincerely think that you should buy it:

  • Higher understanding
  • Higher empathy,
  • And better questions

The uncommon iris of empathy

Remember those questions I mentioned above? Copy them and think about them. Start applying them. These are the questions that should be at the top of your list more than anything else, because the most important thing to your business is the people who are involved. One by one, by understanding people better you can get the right ones into your business, as clients, as teammates, as vendors. If you answer these questions right you can get the other stuff wrong and probably be okay.

Even if it is just a fleeting glimpse, see the world through the lens of the uncommon iris of empathy.

Music is Arp Bounce by Geographer

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