A Matter of Perspective

A matter of perspective

One of the greatest joys in training is seeing a person have a ‘lightbulb’ moment – that moment of insight and realisation upon a revelation that there is a better/different way.  Motivational speaking into schools has also provided many opportunities to assist kids and teachers to look, and to consider things differently. There is much to be gained by challenging one’s viewpoint and set outlook on life, and considering that there might be a better perspective. How do you do this for yourself?

The two main ways I challenge my thinking are: by engaging with people who think very differently to me, have diverse experiences and hold quite obtuse world views; and by reading widely. Emigrating to NZ from Zimbabwe in 2004, I arrived in the middle of the “anti-smacking’ campaign. To me, the whole thing was bizarre. Coming from a country with 500% inflation, no petrol, limited water and food and increasing violence, I confess that my initial thoughts were along the lines that Kiwi life was so easy that people were obviously looking for something to make a cause of. To put this in perspective - One of my biggest culture shocks upon landing in NZ was that elections could be held without guns (the elections were underway when I landed). Smacking was not something I had ever really even questioned. When we were naughty growing up, we got a smack and our kids received likewise.

Talking, discussing and debating with people on the frontline of social welfare ‘opened my eyes’ to a perspective I had never even considered and to a world I was blessed to be sheltered from. Being able to challenge the thinking and need for such a campaign and to have my narrow world-view challenged, changed my whole perspective.  I still remember the moment of paradigm shift that occurred during a run one morning where a series of insightful questions were posed that helped me see things from a fresh perspective.  

How do you challenge your outlook and assumptions on life?  Other than talking with great people consider watching www.TED.comVeritasium and similar. There are so many great quotes on mindset:

“If you can change your mind, you can change your life” William James

“As we think so we are”

“I think therefore I am”

"Your world is a living expression of how you are using and have used your mind."

"You are now, and you do become, what you think about." -  Earl Nightingale

The way you see the world often determines the way you choose to interact and react. If you see the best, you often look for things to confirm this viewpoint and reinforce it. Likewise, if you are inclined to look for what can go wrong, you will find it. “Seek and you will find,” as the saying goes. How often do you choose what you read and watch and find that it is in line with what you find comfortable, confirming and conforming.

I have found reading authors like Malcolm Gladwell very enlightening, as he shows both sides of a topic, leaving you to form your own idea. In “What The Dog Saw”, he does a number of enlightening pieces showing how things in retrospect are always easier to ‘see’ than the puzzle pieces before an event occurs. His article on Eron (paralleling it against the Watergate scandal) is also very thought provoking. Who and what do you read, to challenge and grow your thinking?

The lovely quote, “What got you here, won’t get you there” is an apt reminder that growth starts first in your thinking and then in your actions.

Challenge your perspectives today; seek to understand how others see and think; and look for what corners you might need to knock and cut off to reveal the shining opportunities available at that slightly different angle!