Every once in awhile, I wonder what life would be like if I had a super power. I think about how cool it would be if I could fly, or move things with my mind, or be invisible. Super powers give super heroes a distinct advantage.
I think the same thing can be said about perspective. If you have a larger, more informed perspective, you’ll be able to see things that others won’t. Anais Nin is credited with saying, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” So true. We all have our own stance on things. Oftentimes, our stance is something we take for granted. This idea of “it’s just who I am” governs our unquestioned assumptions about the “way things are.” This means our stance, our perspective, our assumptions make up a model of reality that may not be all that real.
The late Sumantra Ghoshal, a London Business School professor, noted how we tend to find a path through life and then stick with it. We head in one direction and work to reinforce and amplify that path, in both good and bad ways. At some point, the only thing that can influence us toward a new path or broadening the path we’re on is a different perspective.
Ancient Roman mythology associated new beginnings and transitions to a god they called Janus. Janus was characterized as a two-faced god with one face pointing toward the past and the other toward the future. Because of his ability to see in two directions at once, he is also named the “god of the gates.” Janus became the symbol of change, guarding the progress of future to past, from one condition to another, from one vision to another, and young people’s growth to adulthood. He represented time because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other.
An open and growing perspective, like having eyes in the back of your head, can give any leader an advantage in the midst of change and transition. It can be a leader’s superpower. But unlike the ability to fly or shape-shift, this ability can be learned, cultivated, and improved upon. Here’s some simple suggestions to expand your stance…
1. Listen to the perspective of others. We all see the world a bit differently.
2. Read with the intention of learning. Sometimes we read with the intention of agreeing or arguing.
3. Take time to think and reflect on experiences. Don’t just have experiences.
4. Ask questions. Then ask more questions.
5. Surround yourself with people who want to grow their perspective. Narrow-minded folks aren’t that inspiring.
What practical ideas have you found helpful in growing your perspective?