How much thought do you give to your “perspective?” Most of us don’t really think much about it. I mean, our perspective is our perspective and has always been our perspective. It’s all we’ve ever known. Yet the minute we look at something from another perspective it automatically changes our perspective in some way – whether it solidifies it even further, shifts it slightly or maybe even completely changes it.
I’m going to share with you the the most life changing thing I learned in my coaching certification course (and I learned a lot so that’s saying something!). Ready? Here goes.
No two people EVER, have had the exact same perspective. From the beginning of time, through the end of time, no two ever have, or ever will. In order for any two people to have the exact same perspective on life they would have to have the exact same personality, learning style, gender, race, economic level (at every moment in time), education, social circle and circumstances, experiences – and a million other things that make us each unique and uniquely shape our perspective.
I don’t know about you, but that is a little mind boggling for me when I really think about it. But okay, is it really so powerful as to be “life changing?”
Well, the minute we realize that NO ONE on the planet shares our exact perspective, we can begin to look at life a little less judgmentally and a lot more curiously. Why does any person believe what they believe? Why does any given person react the way they do? Why do we look at challenges from different view points? It’s all because of our perspective which is formed through EVERY situation, dynamic and experience we’ve had in OUR life.
That knowledge could just give people an excuse to play the victim or deal with life with anger. I mean, they may have had experiences where that seems justified. Or maybe it is a way to play Pollyanna and say no one does any wrong.
I believe it can actually impact our lives in some pretty amazing ways:
- Grace – It encourages us to step back and learn about the people around us and potentially give a little more grace.
- More than one way of doing things – My dad thought you could only wet a toothbrush after you put the toothpaste on, not before. Really?! He would actually get frustrated with me if I did it the opposite way. Yes – there are definitely “best practices” for many things, but there is often another way of looking at things too. If we’ll just open our minds to that.
- Leadership – As leaders, do we step back and try to understand different perspectives from different “seats on the bus?” Do we remember what it was like when a boss gave a directive? How willing are we to understand our team’s perspective?
- Family relationships – How many of us got married and immeidately expected our spouse to be able to read our minds and know exactly how to love us? We somehow thought all of our inner perspective and thoughts would be immediately transferred to them!
- Co-workers – How well do we know the people we work beside each day? There may be a co-worker going through a really challenging time and we are wondering why they aren’t hanging out at the company picnic.
- Strangers on the street – This awareness can impact even our interactions with complete strangers! That person driving slowly in the left hand lane; the cashier that won’t look up and acknowledge you; the teacher that sent home a terse report on your child. Until we know their perspective we often interpret the situation incorrectly.
So let’s give each other some grace. We don’t and can’t know everything that has shaped the perspective of people around us. We can learn bits and pieces and start to get a somewhat more clear picture of others’ perspectives, which allows us to relate better. And maybe even help them challenge their perspective.
More importantly, we can start to take responsibility for our own perspective. Whatever has shaped our perspective, we can choose differently moving forward when needed. We can take responsibilty for, and learn from situations where we’ve chosen poorly. And we can choose to put time into things that shift us to a more positive perspective.
Everyone’s perspective is constantly shifting. With a little awareness, we can choose to take control our own perspective. Let’s choose to shift to a perspective that gives grace, learns to love those around us (even those that don’t seem lovable), and helps bring out the best in others. What impact would that have on the world? What are some other areas of life where “perspective” has a big influence?