The theater was packed, and we rushed down the first available row to find our seats. As luck would have it, the seat in front of me was empty. I was relieved I’d have three hours of unobstructed views for Avengers: Endgame.
The lights turned down, and the previews began, as my husband and I settled in along with everyone else in the room.
About twenty minutes into the movie it started. The enormous guy to the right of my empty seat decided to sit up as tall as possible, resting his body on his leg to prop himself up even higher. I leaned away from my husband to readjust my view.
Twenty minutes later…
He shifted to the far left of his seat, tilted his head, and did another series of weaving and propping. (I should mention that the people in front of him were children who were definitely not blocking his view). Again, he moved, I moved.
Twenty minutes later…
You can guess what happened over and over for the duration of the movie.
I could either kill myself to find a view where I could see most of the screen or choose to live with the obstruction. It was a little like a photo where someone had their finger over part of the lens – I could guess what was under dark blob in front of me, but would never know for sure. Not to mention, every time I shifted back and forth, I’m sure the people behind me breathed a sigh of frustration.
My mind began to wander from the movie…
The Leadership Aha from the Annoying Guy in the Audience
No matter how much we wish that things were exactly as we wanted, we need to learn to embrace them as they are. When in the midst of something good, and something unpredictable and crappy happens, we can still choose our mindset.
The guy in front of me was going to do his thing no matter what. I suspect, even if I was that person who vindictively kicked his seat in an attempt to send him a veiled message, he wouldn’t stop.
What mattered wasn’t that I labeled this guy as a jerk who was determined to ruin my movie-going experience, but instead accepted that he was a human, like me. Sure, maybe he had to go to the bathroom or had one too many Red Bulls before the show, I’ll never know. It’s unlikely he paid for his ticket and made devious plans to negatively impact the view of everyone behind him.
Each one of us gets to determine where we focus our energy – on the good or on the one thing that isn’t ideal. Would I choose to stare at his head as if it was the only thing in my view or watch the Avengers kick Thanos’s ass?
Essential Questions to Optimize Your Personal Leadership When Your View is Murky
- Are you giving people an uninterrupted view of the big picture or blocking them from critical pieces?
- Do you care about the people behind you?
- What unintentional ripples are you creating when you only consider your perspective?
- When is it protecting someone to give them a limited view and when do you opt for full transparency?
- What do you do when your view is limited?
- How can you avoid being distracted by things that you can’t see?
- What does focus look like when you can’t move an obstacle in front of you?
- How does it impact your experience if you put too much attention on the dark instead of the light?
In the end, I accepted that the guy in front of me was not going to choose to slump down in his seat. After that, it was possible just to enjoy the movie.
I had to let go of what I wanted him to do or thought he should do, and instead do what I was there to do – watch Avengers: Endgame on a rare child-free outing with the love of my life by my side.
When the movie let out, we left before the lights to come came up. For a split second, I was tempted to wait and see if I knew the guy in front of me. Then again, what purpose would that serve? The leadership aha that your experience is your choice was a bonus. Maybe I should have waited around to thank him.
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