Change Your Perspective to See Your True Condition


When I reviewed the results of my leadership 360-degree assessment, I was confused. My lowest score was “Demonstrates insight into how his emotions and behaviors affect others.” This didn’t make sense to me because I think I’m sensitive to how others act around me, and no one has ever told me I’m negligent in this area.

So I went to each person who completed the survey and asked them for additional feedback. This is what I learned: When I’m in group meetings, I’m often passionate about ideas and strong-willed in my presentation, and this can shut others down.

Valuable perspective.

When I set out to purchase my wife a birthday gift, I could not think of anything she needed. My first reaction was to get her a gift card to a store that she likes—let her decide. Then I started to watch her more closely. I noticed that her exercise socks were slim and old. And I saw that her briefcase was tired and wasn’t conducive to carrying a laptop. (These are romantic ideas, I know.)

I changed my perspective to see the world as she experiences it, and I started seeing opportunities.

mountain perspective

When I left last week to spend five days on a ranch with my family, I was excited but didn’t think I needed a vacation. In fact, I had been ignoring several clues—things like sleeping through my alarm, a chronic sore throat, apathy toward my work and general irritability. But when I took my daughter hiking, I realized something.

As I sang to her, held her hand and breathed deeply while scanning the mountain horizon, I thought, I’ve lost perspective. I need to slow down and prioritize connecting over rushing.

There is mounting evidence in my life that I do a poor job of diagnosing my own needs. I am in desperate need of perspective. I’m slow to admit my needs as I pride myself on being self-sufficient and low maintenance. Give me a clearer look, though, and I see the opportunities.

Maybe you need help too. Or maybe someone needs your help. If we intentionally change our perspective, we just might reveal our true condition.

Here are three challenges you and I can take on in the coming weeks to gain perspective:

  1. Assess yourself and your organization. Maybe it’s time to do a 360-degree or employee engagement survey, or to ask people you trust for feedback. Many companies offer these tools to employees, and coaches like me provide diagnostics with helpful reports and benchmark data.
  2. Spend time thinking about the world through the eyes of others. A few months ago, one of my good friends and I made a commitment to each other to take time every morning to think through, anticipate and proactively consider the events and circumstances that our wives were likely to encounter that day. I admit that I don’t do it every morning, but when I do, I always realize something that I can do for her.
  3. Get away from your life. We’re not too important or too busy to turn off our phones and disappear. Ideally, it’s for several days. Some people take a sabbatical for several weeks. For you this month, it might be scheduling an hour to walk aimlessly in the crowd.

Do you realize the opportunities within you and around you right now? How can you gain perspective to see them?

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