Perspective is your physical relationship to information. You cannot have multiple perspectives by sitting in the comfort of your office, or your home, or in the company of your closest friends and ruminating about the world out there. You must go out there and get in the middle of the action.
Perspective is vantage point
The vantage point from which you experience a situation is your perspective. If you are a new employee in a large company, you cannot have the same vantage point as the CEO or even your immediate supervisor because you are not in their position.
The converse also is true. Just because you were once a new employee does not mean you fully understand what it’s like to be a new employee now. Your experience once upon a time is not exactly the same as that experience today.
Perspectives are experienced
You cannot have the perspective of what it’s like to be a person of color living in a white dominated society if you are not a person of color, and vice versa.
You cannot understand the terror of being told you have cancer unless you have experienced that conversation.
If you are financially secure, you cannot understand the gut-wrenching feeling of knowing you have a mortgage or a rent to pay and you have just lost your job and have no savings.
You cannot understand the world of affluence and high society if you do not have the wealth that gives you access to it.
You cannot understand what it’s like to be me because you are not me. And vice versa.
You don’t understand
A friend told me, “You don’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher these days.” They were right. I had never experienced it, so I became a substitute teacher to get a different perspective. It wasn’t the same as, but it helped.
The point is, you cannot have a perspective that you have not experienced. So before you say, “I understand what it’s like,” stop and consider how your experiences compare.
Sympathy is lip service; empathy is a shared experience.
Get up close and personal
I cannot be a person of color, but I can befriend people of color and hang out with them in their places. I can become friends with their friends and try to understand as closely as possible their circumstances.
The television series Undercover Boss showed the mismatch of perspectives and mutual understanding by placing the boss in the employee’s daily environment. The results were amusing and eye opening.
A CEO client once told me how he stayed close to his employees by walking through his plant every day. The problem was, he didn’t spend any time with any one person. Consequently, his employees perceived him as too busy to stop and understand what was going on. I wonder if it would have been more effective to spend an hour a day in one work area interacting more personally with the workers who spent full-time there? And what if he brought one employee a week to shadow him for a couple of days as CEO? Perhaps they would take a different story back to their co-workers from the experience.
I’m not high on critics, because most critics sit in judgement of things they have not done themselves.
I recommend opening yourself to as many experiences as possible. Expand the borders of your comfort world by experiencing, as much as you can, the world in which others live every day.
Enlarge you perspective, and you will be more
If you are listening with your heart, you can hear truth in hurt feelings and anger. The one thing you should not say is, “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
Feelings are always sincere
Feelings are raw and uncensored. They cannot escape notice by the those with a heart for listening. Regardless of the words, feelings seep out through the eyes, facial expression, muscle tension, posture, voice inflection, and tone of voice.
Feelings rise from our most primitive selves. They manifest before a word comes to mind to describe them. They are truth no matter what someone says to disguise them or to dismiss them.
Listen from the heart. Empathize.
Feelings are not supposed to be rational
Thinking is the first step toward insincerity and deceit. We always spin the story in our own best interests to appear strong, right, in control.
But in our heart we know otherwise. Attempts to explain away our feelings are inherently dishonest and unhealthy. What we feel in our gut is honest, and this is true for everyone without exception.
We should never have to apologize for our feelings. Sometimes we don’t even know the words to express what we feel. That’s OK. When we communicate heart to heart we rise above words to delve into the depths of communicating soulfully.
Listen to those who are speaking without words. With practice you will understand.
And then you will know what to say.
When you learn to listen with your heart,
you will be more
Be still, and know. The stillness is the place of introspection, where we meet ourselves and reflect on life’s events so we can learn our way forward. It’s the intersection of what was, what is, and what can be.
When the mind is still it is available for messages that arrive from places unknown to reveal paths to places un-thought of. The corner of Introspection and Insight.
The stillness is your friend
Call the phenomenon what you will, I believe it is the universe whispering to my soul. Some call it the voice of God; regardless of what you call it, it is undeniably present.
It is available when summoned, but you must be still and quiet to hear its arrival. It comes on its own schedule, not as an obedient servant, but as a wise mentor.
Empty before you can be filled
Before I can hear this voice, I must empty my mind of its noise. I find an out-of-the-way spot where I will not be interrupted. They are available, even in the busiest of places. Look for them.
I take a posture in which I can relax as much as possible. I prefer to sit with both feet on the floor and by back solid against the back of the chair so I can relax the muscles in back, shoulders, arms, and neck. I let my head fall forward, and I close my eyes as I breathe slowly in and out through my mouth.
I think of nothing at first. I wait.
Eventually, the message I need to hear at that moment, and that I am ready to hear, comes. I listen, because I believe it is speaking truth to my soul.
Accept the message
The voice affirms that it speaks in my best interest. It speaks as one pointing me to a higher self.
It knows the questions I have been asking, because it often speaks to what has been heaviest on my heart.
Sometimes it rebukes me for my selfishness, my impulsiveness, or my arrogance. Sometimes it reminds me of my generosity, by discipline, or my compassion.
Sometimes it tells me of things I need to change so I can grow and evolve. Sometimes I want to argue, but I have learned that when I argue with, or deny, or disregard the truth of the message, I take the wrong path.
Regardless of the lesson, I am better for it.
Then it tells me to go forth and live the lesson. Bring it to life in my world. And it assures me that it will return when I invite it into the stillness.
Seeking the voice in the stillness gives me insight
into how I can be
According to the polling statistics, Hillary Clinton had a narrow edge on Donald Trump to win the 2016 presidential election. But, surprise!, in certain crucial states Donald Trump narrowly edged out Clinton to capture that state’s electoral votes and win the presidency. What happened?
Pollsters will tell you that their sampling did not detect the strength of support for rural conservative voters, zealous for Trump and a change to the status quo he offered.
The map is not the territory
It’s a classic case of the principle that the map is not the territory.
How many times have you been following a map while driving and still get lost, turned around, or miss the turn? It happens to me all the time, and I’m a pretty smart guy. I’m pretty good at reading maps.
The problem is that there is a difference watching a blue dot on my maps app and being that blue dot while driving through unfamiliar territory. What I see in reality is not shown on the map itself. The map is only a representation of the territory, and it only shows me certain things–not everything. From the front seat of my car, I’m seeing the territory from ground level in real time 3-D.
Maps are abstractions
We rely on maps of all kinds in all aspects of our lives, such as:
- forecasting the weather
- planning our financial investments
- measuring productivity
- measuring profit and loss
- making strategic business decisions
- controlling air traffic
- knowing how much gas is left in the tank, or how fast we are driving
- evaluating our health
- selecting potential employees to interview
- find a suitable date, and so forth.
These maps come in many forms, such as computer models and simulations, spreadsheets, charts and graphs, photographs and videos, resumes, dating profiles, dials and gauges, recipes, instructions, and so forth.
WARNING! No map tells you everything
Anytime we are selecting information to represent what is happening in reality, we are making a map. Sometimes maps leave out, or even totally misrepresent, information that is important to accurately reflect reality. Forecasting any future reality is an educated guess.
Every wonder why meteorologists deal in probabilities and not in absolutes? Now you know. Our trouble is that we want to take their forecasts as gospel even though they tell us forecasts are best guesses.
Our challenge is to construct the best possible map to give us the best possible information to make the best possible decisions when it matters. But in the end, it’s still a map, and the map is not the territory.
Anyone who relies entirely on the map without getting a first-hand look and experiencing the territory, risks getting lost, and that can be costly.
Make reliable maps.
Go see for yourself.
And you’ll be more
We goof up all the time. Sometimes we mess up really badly. I can tell you a boat load of stories about how I messed up in my life. But I never set out to make any of those mistakes on purpose. And neither did you.
So, get over it.
I published an INPowerment Tip about getting real about our circumstances that I learned while playing golf. Check it out here.
Here’s the point. We can bad mouth and trash talk ourselves over our mistakes, but that will just make matters worse. When we go negative on ourselves, our friends, our team mates, our employer, or our government, we spin a story that might not be true at all on the whole. We take a relatively small issue and blow it totally out of proportion to create a narrative in our minds that does not resemble the real world in any way.
Focus on improving, not on how bad we think we have been.
I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes. I have my regrets that some cannot be undone. I resolve to be better going forward and learn from the consequences of my misdeeds and missteps.
When we admit our shortcomings and seek to learn from them, that’s healthy. That’s what I mean by getting over it. Be honest and real with ourselves. Learn, improve, move on.
Find a friend in whom you can confide
I have one or two close friends who will help me keep my head on straight. I’ve learned to seek them out when I start feeling down on myself. I rely on them to get me back in touch with reality. And guess what? Sometimes I do that for them, too.
You can INPower yourself by finding those in whom you can confide.
Sometimes we need that kind of help
in order to be