At a leadership training I attended this week, the presenter, Steve Francks who is the CEO of the Washington Association of Realtors®, discussed the importance of transparency. While the training was for Board members of the Delaware Assocation of Realtors® and the county associations within our state, what we reviewed was helpful information for anyone in a leadership role.
Steve noted that it’s important for people to understand why decisions are made, to be transparent, or people will jump to conclusions, often the wrong ones.
I thought back to a conversation I had in high school with a friend and fellow art student. Though I went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science as a graphic design major and continue to enjoy creating art, I am legally red-green colorblind. That fact was underscored in my life when I would be working on replicating something for an art assignment and need the help of my friend to determine if the segment in question was navy or black.
And yes, it was confirmed with those wonderful color dot tests, where my responses exasperated the tester who thought I was just being a trouble-making teenager. I mean… I’m a girl… and it’s rare for girls to be colorblind. If you know anything of genetics though, my dad was colorblind, as are my brothers, and one of my sisters shares the genetic signature that I picked up, so mom was a carrier. All of that aside, it’s made for some funny moments in my life.
When one of my daughters was in kindergarten and I was attempting to get her dressed for school, I showed her a suggestion for what to wear for the day. She was jumping on her bed but stopped long enough to laughingly quip at me, “Mom, do I need to remind you that you’re colorblind?” I really had picked out a good outfit; she was just doing her best to be funny.
My friend and fellow art student responded to one of my color inquiries one day with a response that still makes me laugh. She imagined that one day there would be an exhibition of my work and there would be a learned art curator speaking to a group assembled for the show. “In this phase, you can tell the artist was experiencing great anxiety by means of the color selections she made,” to which my friend would respond from the back of the room, “Excuse me. She had no idea what she was doing. She was, in fact, colorblind.”
My color vision has also elicited a lot of wrong conclusions. People assume they know what I see, or don’t see. And many assume I don’t see color at all. A better way to actually describe my particular version of red-green colorblindness would be to call it color-limitedness. If you can discern, say, eight colors in a tweed carpet, I might be lucky to see five different colors. Or, think of a black-and-white version of a photo. Anything that’s the same in the gray scale in that photo, when translated into color, will likely prove a challenge for me, e.g., mint green and gray, navy and black, brown and green.
If I want people to know my perspective in terms of my colorvision, helping people understand matters. And while there will certainly be times where people do not need to know why you decided what you did, if you’re working as a team, it helps. Transparency can be important so that people don’t reach the wrong conclusions.
Take it from the colorblind woman. ;-)