In an episode of a television show I enjoy, one of the main characters acknowledges that he seems to see the best in people even when nobody else can, and he speculates that this must be an asset in some lines of work, but may be a handicap in his. He’s a rookie cop, and the person he’s telling this to is his father, who is also the police commissioner of New York.

Another television show has a character who sees the beauty in everything and everyone. It’s a quality she recognizes and appreciates about herself – as do the people she works with. She worries from time to time, though, that she may lose this quality or become jaded because of the job she has, which is as a technical analyst with an FBI team that hunts down serial killers.

There are two things here that I find intriguing. The first has to do with identifying and acknowledging that trait of seeing the best in others – certainly it is a skill that can be developed and put into practice, but it’s also something that comes naturally to some people – and the second is looking at it in relation to our jobs. And seeing how it can affect, or be affected by, the work we do.

Part of my interest is personal, since I identify with that trait and those characters. And being able to easily and automatically see the gifts that other people have is what led me to the work I do now of helping people find what I call their buried treasure. Often, the skills and strengths I see in them are some that they don’t even realize they possess.

I can understand how this may not be helpful in some occupations, such as those that involve catching, identifying, or prosecuting criminals. But I can’t help thinking that the world would be a much better place if more of us looked for – and actually saw – everything that was good about our surroundings and the people in them, rather than everything that was wrong or bad about them. There is no shortage of people who love to dig up and dish out the dirt on others. We could use more of the people who do the opposite.

People often tend to live up – or down – to our expectations of them. It’s been my experience – and I know I’m not alone in this – that when you see the best, rather than the worst, in other people, they seem to start acting more in accordance with that image. And that’s reason enough to start doing it.

In fact, I think it would be great to see a television show about someone who has the ability to telepathically convey to different people all the good that he or she sees in them. It would be even more interesting if this series focused on how the lives of these people were changed, and how they in turn changed the lives of other people.

And best of all would be if the television show turned into reality TV.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on March 5, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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