Getting perspective is like giving ourself the gift of extra insight.
It means we’re okay to play devil’s advocate; to ask ourselves the hard questions, you know, in case there are alternative ideas or points of view we should consider. To me, getting perspective on anything is just plain smart.
Call me crazy, but not getting perspective -especially with important decisions- seems reckless. Why would anyone throw their weight behind a singular point of view without first inviting outside ideas, opinions and information – perspective- to gain greater clarity, insight, compassion or understanding of them first? I don’t get it!
Let’s say someone’s perspective is, “You can’t be successful in business without a college degree”. This perspective was so popular back in the day it even had a name: “Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts”. Many in academia still firmly believe this to be true, much to (from my perspective) their detriment. But here’s the thing…
While someone may feel a post-secondary education (book smarts) gives them an advantage over a colleague with no degree, the “uneducated” (street smarts) person might feel that having learned their trade in the field gives them the advantage.
Street Smart folk may feel that learning a trade by physically doing the work gives them a far superior education over colleagues who studied outdated, hypothetical scenarios taught by over-the hill teachers in dingy, florescent lit classrooms.
Neither is right nor wrong; they are simply based on each person’s individual education, experiences, needs, wants, likes, dislikes, desires, etc. Like so many things in life, what is right for one person may not be right for another. They are usually about as similar as chalk and cheese. This is why individual perspective is so important.
Perspective lets us peek behind Oz’s curtain to see what potential alternative(s) of our situations may look like, and not just for us as individuals. Last time I checked, no man is an island; so unless we want to be kicked out to the archipelago, we must also consider how our decisions affect the other islands.
For example, you know the “flag-waving, horn-tootin’, anti-vaxers” who’ve been disrupting our neighbourhoods, desecrating our flag and demanding they get their “freedom” back lately? Let’s toss a little perspective their way and see what it looks like, shall we?
One perspective would be to understand and appreciate that the very act of being allowed to protest freely is an actual freedom that much of the world doesn’t have.
Another might suggest being grateful they aren’t in Kiev, Ukraine, where bombs and missiles are raining down, killing innocent people; innocent people just like them.
Sadly, their insular Facebook and YouTube driven brains would likely not be open to such perspectives; not unless of course, it included sympathy for the grave injustices of being asked to get a life-saving vaccine or wear a mask when in Home Depot. But I digress…
A personal situation came up recently which I’ve had to apply perspective. In a nutshell:
Putting the Russian/Ukraine war aside, lately I’ve been feeling hopeful about overseas travel again. Science is clearly paying off; and with restrictions (like indoor mask-wearing and airport Covid testing) being revisited, I’m ready to get out exploring again.
I jumped online to search for trips to re-introduce myself to the wonderful world of long, hot sweaty days in the desert, balmy sun-drenched turquoise beaches, interesting ancient histories, and lots and lots of cultural experiences.
Before you could say paella, caldo verde or tagine, I’d booked a month-long trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco, with many days spent “off grid”. If all goes well, I’ll be gone the whole month of September.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of liberation booking this trip gave me. Like most of us, after two years of feeling grounded, it helped me feel like I’m taking back an important piece of my life, my identity, and my purpose; things we’ve all missed for far too long. I couldn’t wait to share the good news!
However, one business I contract with wasn’t pleased, suggesting a month away wouldn’t support their expectations of my needed services. (Not much Internet in the Sahara!) Ostensibly, the message I heard was “Yeah, not going to work for us… Sorry.” Seriously? What to do?
Jim Rohn said, “You will learn more being fascinated by life than you will by being frustrated by it.” As such, I’ve decided to be fascinated (not frustrated) by this situation and get some perspective to see what I come up with. Let’s see, shall we?
Before deciding or taking a stand on something, perspective asks us to understand the pros and cons of all sides. We can then use this information to move forward in the best way possible for all.
*With six months notice, I found the resistance a little telling. Fascinating.
Perception compares our priorities with the priorities of others; it questions our levels of commitment, responsibility and/or gratitude to things both inside and outside of our control. Perspective checks to see if all sides are kind, fair and considerate of each other; or if they are not.
*When this organization needs support, I’ve given it. I’m just asking for a little understanding and quid pro quo. Fascinating.
Perspective can reveal the many ways a single decision can play out; both in the immediate future, and down the road. This is especially important when there are moving pieces or other people involved in the outcome of a decision.
*Ultimately, our individual perspectives will decide the outcome for each of us. Fascinating!
After gaining perspective, but before making a final choice, we must understand the potential downside of our decision. Once a choice is made, we’ll have to live with it – good, bad or ugly- so it’s important to choose wisely.
*On one hand I don’t want to lose this contract, but on the other hand I don’t want to forgo an amazing trip… What to do? Fascinating!
Nietzsche once said, “There are no facts, only interpretations”. Everyone has a different point of view, and different things matter to different people. Good leadership makes decisions based on what’s best for everyone involved – you know, win-win. I’ve tried to do this from my end, and hope the contractor does the same. Time will tell.
Either way, I find the entire premise extremely fascinating.
I’m also excited about visiting Marrakesh again.
Author Bio: David Knapp-Fisher
As founder of The Inspired Humans Project, David loves sharing inspirational stories. His TEDx talk, “Discipline or Regret, a Father’s Decision” been viewed over 112,000 times, and his book, “Punch Failure in The Face, The Buy It a Beer” has 36 five star reviews on amazon.ca.
David lives in Victoria B.C. and spends most of his time trying (& usually failing) to stump his son with movie trivia or planning his next big adventure; both while drinking great coffee, of course.