I have been intrigued by how different people respond to exactly the same situation in different ways. For example, if a flight is late, you hear one person crib that the flight is delayed due to a technical failure and that the delay totally messed up their schedules; and on the other end you hear another person celebrate and thank God for the airline finding out the technical failure before the flight taking off. Same situation but diametrically opposite perspectives. What causes these perspectives?; Do we have a choice in choosing our perspectives?; How do these perspectives impact people?
To get answers to these questions, I thought the first thing to do was to see what perspective means? One of the dictionary meanings of perspective is ‘the state of existing in space before the eye’. If you look at this definition closely it states that perspective is what exists in space and not in reality. It is not real, it is only exists in space.
To get a better understanding of the above definition, let’s understand what does space in this context mean? The dictionary meaning of space in this context is ‘a blank portion or area’. If space is a blank portion or area then that means there is nothing in that portion or area. If there is indeed nothing in that blank portion or area, that means you can put in there what you would like, see if it works for you and if it doesn’t; take it out and put in something else that does work for you.
No wonder different people have different perspectives to the same exact situation. The state of what exists (in space and not in reality) is different for different people. Different people decide differently what they would like to exist in this blank space or area before their eye.
So the next question is how can I choose what to put in the blank space? How can you ‘put in’, ‘take out’, and ‘put in something else’ in that blank portion called space?
Perspectives lie in your language. Through language you see a particular situation and that gives you your perspective. So, you can crib that your flight is delayed due to a technical failure and that has totally messed up your schedules; or celebrate and ‘thank God for the airline finding out the technical failure before the flight took off’. Same situation, different perspectives that lie in the blank space and we bring this into existence with our language.
Lets take an example of a lady working at a call centre. One perspective is that her job requires her to answer calls from distressed customers of her organisation and all she does is takes calls and responds to them. The other way of looking at this is that she is supporting her customers in solving their problems. She has the power of delighting them, satisfying them or totally putting them off her organization. This can also be recreated by this lady in her language as this is not her job, but her source of making a living for herself and her family. You can choose your perspective and if the existing perspective does not empower you to take action, then bin that perspective and create another perspective that does empower you to take action.
There is no doubt in the fact that your results are a function of the actions that you take. And, if your actions are determined by your perspectives; by changing the perspective, your actions are automatically changed inside of this new perspective that you have chosen to give yourself. And voila, you get brand new results.
Very regularly I see people jailed by their perspectives. It is important to use your perspectives to empower you and not to be used by your perspectives. It is an opportunity to intellectually challenge yourself and try and bring an even a slight shift and see the impact that slight shift may have on your actions. As you regularly start to challenge your perspectives, you realize how deeply you are consumed by these perspectives and give yourself little or no choice to operate outside a pre-defined view.
I suggest you take on this opportunity and see what opens up for you. You never know, your life may just get transformed.
Sameer Dua, Founder Director, Institute for Generative Leadership, India
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