When was the last time you labeled something without understanding it?

Judged something as one thing when you didn’t know what it meant?

I know I’ve done it.

Given that we can never fully understand anything, in theory, we do it all the time.

I label; we all label. It is a human need to label things because it allows us to communicate vague concepts and it helps us make decisions.

Understood. Labelling has its uses.

A lot of us, however, do work that requires us to see things from different perspectives – to make new connections; to be creative.

Labelling puts things into boxes and kills creativity.

The ability to express ourselves fluidly and with colour comes from the recognition that things have multiple meanings – to see that there is ‘no spoon’ – no label.

If I want to stand out and have better ideas, I know I need to go against my default mode – which is to judge quickly.

Too often we think we know it all.

To nurture an open, and therefore more creative mind – one that is capable of cultivating compelling ideas, I am working on observing more.

When I was at school, I was often found on the periphery, watching others with fascination. But after I while, I was criticised, labeled boring, odd, and quiet.

For a long time, I rejected the act of observing, associating it with the shame I felt. But I have since rediscovered its importance.

I try to do it more, but it is a challenge to have it feature as a mindset all day long.

The next best thing is to set aside time to observe: people walking and talking; the birds, the weather; plant life, and the way the light changes (and not behind a screen!).

Read more judge less, observe more

By – Alex Mathers