How Important Is Perspective?
Ok, perspective may not actually be the answer to the universe. But, it is vitally important to relating with others and making progress in anything you do.
In any relationship, personal growth or building success, the way we see things makes a huge difference.
What Exactly Is Perspective?
The word “perspective” has a Latin root, meaning to “look through” or perceive. It is, quite literally, the frame or lens we use to see people or situations.
Most of us have filters applied to the lenses we see through. Such a filter “colors” how we look at situations or even peoples’ motives based on our own set of beliefs. Unfortunately, those lenses are misleading more often than not.
We have the ability to change our perspective, with practice. It doesn’t have to change what you believe, but it can. To wipe the lenses and get a clear frame, we have to let go of pride & ego, and practice objective, empathic understanding.
Having a broad understanding from outside your point of view allows you to understand elements of a business deal better. It helps you see the big picture when learning new skills, finding innovative solutions to problems and relating to colleagues, friends, partners or your kids.
An open, objective view is what anyone needs when working on any self-improvement or personal growth project. Without a thorough, working perspective things get very difficult because we can’t see things the way they really are. We might think we understand when we really don’t. Stephen Covey said it best; “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.”
Problems of Limited Perspective
A while back, I ran into an uncomfortable dilemma with a girlfriend. When we spoke on the phone at the end of the day, I’d ask how she felt and how her day was. As she told me about the day’s events, I made an effort to show my interest in her life and would sometimes ask questions like, “what movie did you watch last night” and, “how was it?”. She began to accuse me of not trusting her because I asked such questions and even said I was strange for asking how her day went, or if she had rested well the night before.
I was actually asking because I cared about her, but you can see the difference between these two opposite perspectives. I know what I felt and what my intentions were. She believed I had some other motive for the way I communicated. But, she didn’t understand my reasons because of the “lens” she saw through.
Time To Clean Your Lens
It is impossible to relate to another being without a perspective of their desires, motivations, feelings, etc. Unfortunately, it’s natural to have preconceived notions or make assumptions about others. I’m frequently guilty of this. Sure, the person doing that ‘thinks’ they’re justified…but all too often, they lack true perspective.
I can tell you when I’ve had the most problems in any relational situation; it’s when I’ve stopped making an effort to gain perspective. That keeps me from being able to understand, and without understanding, I couldn’t communicate or relate effectively.
Matthew Kelly, author of The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved, teaches, “the more each person can remove his or her ego from the discussion and focus on the subject matter, the more fruitful the conversation will be for all involved.”
For consistent happiness and successes in life, you’ll find the effort you put into practicing perspective is the primary element making the difference between mediocre and amazing.