“Learn how to see”
– Leonardo Da Vinci


The other day I was checking out guitars online. I’m a bit of a guitar freak, and I was with a friend who doesn’t know much about them. As I was geeking out, explaining the different body shapes and configurations, she said “I just see a guitar. They all look the same to me.”


It struck me that how much we pay attention to something determines how much nuance we can see. The more familiar we are with something, the more we can discern subtle distinctions. And this ability can help us engage differently, have a different level of conversation, learn faster, and make better decisions.

This idea applies in multiple fields:

Accents: a visitor to a country will typically hear ‘the country’s accent’ whereas a local will hear distinct regional variations, sometimes down to the town or village someone comes from.

Use of language: an observant listener will pick up on specific words and phrases that can indicate a certain mindset or world view. For example: ‘I can’t’ indicates a perceived lack of agency, whereas ‘I won’t’ indicates that the person is making a more conscious choice.

How groups behave: Ineffective leaders will simply see a group of people. Effective leaders will notice the subtle energy dynamics at play in the group, be able to ‘read the room’, and respond with the appropriate energy and language.

The list goes on… 

I reckon mastering nuance is a critical skill for any leader, change-maker or student of life. When we can see more clearly what’s happening, we can respond more adeptly to what’s happening.

How to master nuance? 

Pay attention.

How to pay more attention?

Slow down.

Slow down. Pay attention. And be a student of nuance in your chosen field.



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