“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”
– Henri-Louis Bergson, French Philosopher
Perspective comes from a prepared mind, one expanded by life experiences and diverse interests. At work and in life, our perceptions of individuals can have positive or negative consequences, and long memories. Their image can be altered at any moment, to meet the needs of someone else. Much like a photograph in a dark room.
Just as photos can be distorted to meet our individual preferences, so can our perspective of people. The image we see is what we believe people to be – not who they are. Our distorted lens affects our relationships and impacts the work we do.
Who is right and who is wrong? Is the more important question – why do we see what is in front of us differently?
Think of the people you work with. Some always agree with you and tell you what you want to hear. Some always disagree with your ideas. Most are somewhere in between. Dueling perspectives are part of every workplace, and we would benefit from learning how to value these differences more effectively.
Admired leaders with a broad perspective often do the following:
- Realize people at work are not photographs to be distorted in the dark room.
- Shine the light to realize their own biases and meet others where they are.
- Resist dismissing people who make a mistake, have a different opinion, or simply lack perspective.
- Create a culture where everyone on the team has a mind prepared to comprehend.
Three keys to gaining, keeping, and sharing your perspective:
Read strategically, build a new network of people who know what you do not know, identify interesting topics to study deeper, and look for how all this new learning connects. The ideas and people who brought you this far were career builders – you now need to step to a new level.
Under pressure, our perspective can be threatened. We are tempted to react impulsively to short term needs. Effective leaders protect the perspective they have worked hard to create, sharing their point of view, and having the confidence to maintain their convictions. They stay strong, provide hope, and remain open minded.
Like a fine meal, a rich perspective is best shared with others. Admired leaders invest their perspective in the next generation – to provide them a running start. A broad perspective lost through a job change or retirement is a terrible thing to waste.
I worked hard as a leader to gain and keep my perspective. Where I fell short was sharing. My fixed mindset was self-important – building my credibility and staying cool under fire. The good news is I have moved from regret to responsibility, and my teaching and coaching duties enable me to share my perspective daily.
Your perspective is a gift to others – unwrap the gift.
All the best,