The Power of Perspective
One day, a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country to show him how poor people lived. They spent several days on a farm with a family who didn’t have much to offer them. When they returned home, the father asked his son, “Did you like the trip? ”Oh yes, very much, dad!” “Did you see how poor people live? ”Yes!”
the son answered. “So what did you learn from the trip?”
The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog, and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek to swim in that has no end. We have lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them.”
The boy’s father was speechless. The son added, “Dad, thanks for showing me what it really means to be rich.”
What is worthless to one person is another’s treasure. It’s all based on our individual and unique perspectives...
We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.
Author Lori Rubenstein offers great advice about the power of perspective. She says in order to change a perspective, we need to be willing to see and choose other perspectives, release all judgments about our situations, let go of the perspective that hurts us, and then decide to choose a better, healthier perspective.
Michael J. Chase, author of Heal Your Life, also known as “The Kindness Guy” refers to the power of shifting perspective through the following examples of shifting from victim to personal responsibility:
A young woman is continually verbally abused by her spouse.
Victim: She accepts her situation, and at times even believes his unkind words are true.
Personal Responsibility: She chooses to leave him, take control of her life, and work at a shelter for abused women.
A man is unjustly fired from his job.
Victim: He becomes angry with everyone around him and remains bitter for years.
Personal Responsibility: He chooses to see this event as an opportunity to do something he actually loves.
Michael shares the tremendous power of shifting from a place of suffering to one of service. Moving from “poor me” to a place of contribution, transforms our weakness into a position of strength. When we look at our past hurts as an opportunity to serve others, we become powerful creators who can reduce our suffering relating to our circumstances. We can always choose a different outcome.
If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at, change.
Dr. Wayne Dyer
Many of us get frustrated when people let us down, don’t cooperate, or they don’t meet our expectations. Working as a CASA volunteer helping abused or neglected children, has opened my eyes to new perspectives. Before this work, I would hear news stories and be quick to judge the parents. When I meet and spoke with one of the parents, I quickly realized that she could barely take care of herself. When I learned more about her story, it helped me develop empathy and an attitude of understanding, that I could not have known without getting involved on a personal level.
Next time you’re having trouble with someone, ask yourself, What if…that person (or that employee) is doing the best that they can with what they’ve lived, and what they know? If you assume that this is true, it will help shift your perspective of someone and an entire situation in a positive way.
The next time you notice frustration or anger creeping in relating to someone’s choices, behavior or actions try asking yourself, what are they teaching me? Is it patience? Is it self-control? Is it kindness? “The Work” of spiritual teacher Byron Katie asks these questions: Is my “story” true? How do I know it’s true? Now reverse the roles in the situation. How does role reversal help you see things differently?
Approach follow up conversations carefully, and prepare notes in advance if you can. Lead the conversation with an attitude of caring and empathy. This strategy will reduce defensiveness and produce a more positive outcome.
Continue to ask kind questions to gain a deeper understanding of the entire situation. A great example of what’s usually uncovered is similar to an iceberg. Many times, what we see on the surface is small, in comparison to the “root” of something we learn over time…there’s something much bigger, going on below the surface.
If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it,
change the way you think about it.
Author Andy Andrews tells us to put on our "perspecticles". In desperate times, more than anything else, folks need perspective. Perspective brings calm. Calm leads to clear thinking. Clear thinking yields new ideas. And ideas produce the bloom…of an answer. Keep your head and heart clear.
Perspective can just as easily be lost as it can be found.
Shana Farrell has been with Fox Valley Technical College, Wisconsin for more than 21 years in numerous leadership positions including Business and Industry Services, Printing Services, Distance Learning, Adjunct Instructor for FVTC and Silver Lake College, and is currently a Project Manager within the Center for Instructional Excellence. For many years, Shana was actively involved as an IPMA member in her role as Manager of Printing Services; FVTC continues its membership today. Her professional experience includes management development, training coordination, marketing, advertising, fundraising, event coordination and sales. Shana holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Professional Communication from Alverno College, Milwaukee and a Master of Science Degree in Management and Organizational Behavior from Silver Lake College, Manitowoc. Shana has extensive leadership experience as a graduate of Leadership Fox Cities, the Wisconsin Technical College System Leadership Development Institute (WLDI) and FVTC’s LEAD Academy. She has been a Junior Achievement volunteer and is currently a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Outagamie County helping children who are abused or neglected. Shana’s newest role is as a Life Coach facilitator trained through the Life Design Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
For more inspirational writings of Shana please CLICK HERE to go to her website “Life Matters”.