Your perspective impacts everything. It determines whether you view a day of missed expectations as a failure or a learning experience. It’s the difference maker of a good or bad day at work. James Baldwin said, “The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks at reality, then you can change it.” Is there something in your life that’s begging you to take another look?
As individuals, we all have our own perspective on life. It’s how we’re wired and shaped by our environment. You and I may be in the same situation and view it completely different. You may ask yourself “Why did he do that?” or “What was she thinking?” A lack of understanding of both ourselves and others can lead to tension, disappointment, hurt feelings, unmet expectations and poor communication. It’s about understanding that the way you see something it not necessarily how someone else may see it.
Early in my career, I worked with a man that had a reputation around the department as a low performer with a fairly troublesome attitude. He had been through a number of organization changes and now he was reporting to me. Just as the transition was taking place, I went to his previous managers to better understand his history. I didn’t realize that in doing so, I actually was taking on their perspective of him. I assumed the information I gathered about him was correct. In the coming weeks, I would get to know him as an individual. To my surprise, I had the wrong perspective! He was actually quite intelligent, personable with a great sense of humor. As I would later uncover, he had a completely different skill set than what the job required. He wasn’t the right fit. Once I changed my perspective on his abilities, I was able to make the best decision for him, the team, and the organization by moving him to a different role.
It’s true, perception is reality. I shared that story, because it’s one of the most memorable experiences in my career where I realized that my perception was the wrong reality. He was being positioned for termination. I would have unknowingly contributed to the premature end of his career by assuming everyone was right in their analysis of the situation. If you’re having trouble understanding someone or a situation maybe it’s time to change your perspective. Consider doing the following:
Ask questions. Being curious helps you learn different points of view. Spend time asking lots of question. Gather the right kind of data before making assumptions.
Be a servant. Moving pass your own needs to be there for someone else builds empathy. It’s hard to rush to judgement when you’re compassionate about a person or a situation. My abilities were often underestimated throughout my career, so it was easy for me to be open to the possibility that everyone’s assessment could be wrong.
Get outside your comfort zone. Your perspective is impacted by your ability to see. As long as you stay in what’s familiar and comfortable your view is limited. New and different experiences broaden you as a person. Dare yourself to learn something new.
If this is truly a growth area for you, then do something about it. Is there more than meets the eye in your situation? Find out and change your perspective.