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Life in the Nuances

In the fast paced developed world, we are largely a “big picture” society. We look at the world from 30,000 feet and can’t be bothered with the details or nuances of life. We’re busy and have important business to attend to.

CEOs and Directors spend most of their time just skimming over the top and very little time in the nuances. This takes them further and further out of touch with what their customers or beneficiaries actually need or desire. This creates serious inefficiencies and results in lost opportunities for achieving the extraordinary.

People spend so much time trying to correct big problems that they forget that, more often then not, it’s a multitude of small issues that created that big problem. And until those dynamics are understood and addressed, the big problem is going to continue to reoccur. If they took the time to dive deep, even for a few minutes, they could reach a level of understanding that would allow them to solve the problem once and for all. But they are usually far too busy for that.

Understanding is most often achieved through nuance.

You learn a lot about a person’s character and motivation when you pay attention to the nuances of their behavior. It’s not the big achievements or failures that show who they are. It’s the constant nuanced disciplines and behaviors that got them there.

Big charities and aid organizations so often miss their objective because they’re too focused on meeting the budget or pleasing the donors that they neglect to spend quality time with their beneficiaries. If you don’t spend time in the trenches, face to face, you’ll never solve the word’s greatest needs. So often, the most profound discoveries, and consequent solutions, are realized during a seemingly unrelated event. It’s the time when a director ends up sharing a car with a beneficiary and that profound conversation occurs in the car on the way to the airport.

In relationships, it’s not the big celebrations or losses that define us, it’s the nuanced daily behaviors that tell are the most telling. They show what we truly care about, and how much.

Society habitually and compulsively attempts to simplify life down to categories, boxes, calculations, stereotypes and formulas. We want quantifiable results and clear paths to success. That formula works just fine in a factory, but it’s never going to result in anything extraordinary.

Trial and error, attention to detail and dedicated face time expose us to the nuances that can often lead to profound discoveries.

If you’re baking a cake, you won’t find “cake” on the list of ingredients. You’ll find an assortment of small ingredients that come together to create that delicious confection. Nuances are the ingredients of life. That’s where I continually discover the most beauty and profound understanding.



  1. Anna Rounseville on December 20, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    You are right! In my time with my children they know I’ll make mistakes along the way, but the times we spend just standing in the kitchen laughing, I’m pretty sure it feeds their souls- it does mine. 😀

  2. Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight on December 20, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    Love the cake-recipe analogy. Really rings true.

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