Last week I was waiting in the doctors with my two year old son. We were sat in an upstairs room, in a window seat and I was trying to keep him entertained after an already lengthy wait (for a 2 year old) I said to him “look out of the window… what can you see?” to which he replied “cars, tractors” i.e. the things he’s interested in. It struck me that if I’d been asked the same question I would have answered “buildings, people”, i.e. the things I’m interested in! It made me think of the Anais Nin quote ‘we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are’ – we see the world from our own world view, our own perspective.
I find other people’s perspectives most intriguing! I have to admit I used to find them quite annoying… afterall they were different to mine …why did others not just see everything from my perspective?…but as I’ve aged and had my eyes opened to this diversity of perspective through my coaching training and experience I’m much more appreciative of other opinions, other perspectives and seek them out far more than I would’ve in the past.
This week I put together a briefing paper for a new product I want to offer based on Action Learning & instead of just sending it out, or asking opinion from perhaps one other person I sent it out to 11 people. As I received their responses it made me smile to see their varied perspectives: some commented on price; others on colour; others on image; on layout of text; on content, etc. Amazing! I think I’ve had 6 responses so far & 6 different perspectives! The reason it made me smile is this is the very thing that’s so amazing about Action Learning… sharing challenges you face with 8 or 9 other people, showing a little vulnerability, asking for help and then hearing back what they have to say. It’s not always comfortable, but it is invariably eye opening because, for me at least, there’s always one person in the room who blows me away with their perspective. Someone who thinks about things from a polar opposite perspective to mine & I love the insight that that brings!
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about perspective, one of my very early blogs ‘Try on a Different Perspective’ was about just that … recognising how key perspectives are to coaching. I think since then I’m realising how key perspectives are…to understanding …to learning …to appreciating …to relationships …to connecting!
- Next time someone disagrees with you… what questions can you ask to be truly curious about their perspective?
- How can you adopt an approach of ‘seek first to understand and then to be understood’ (from Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’)?
- Who can you ask for feedback and opinions who you know will challenge your perspective?
- Who can you choose to spend more time with to open you up to new perspectives?
- What do you need to do to be more appreciative of people who are different to you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts… either by leaving a comment here or on twitter @ThePensiveCoach