February 12, 2014

4 Steps to Unlocking the Power of Perspective

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building, a hat by his feet, and holding a sign: "I am blind, please help." A man stopped, looked to see but a few coins, and dropped the change from his pocket into the hat. The man then took the sign, wrote something new, and placed the sign back in the boy’s hand. Before he continued on his way the man said, “It will be a great day, I will be back this afternoon.” Now nearly everyone walking by stopped, and dropped coins into then hat. The blind boy could not help but wonder what the man had written on his sign. His new sign had changed everything. Later that day, the man returned. The boy was excited to talk with him and asked, “What did you write on my sign?” The man said, “I said what you said, but differently. I wrote, “Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it." While both signs told people the boy was blind, the second sign told people that they were so lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty of the day. The boy’s condition remained the same, but by changing the perspective he experienced a much better result.

Epictetus first uttered it in 50 A. D.. Epictetus, a Greek philosopher who rose to prominence in spite of being born into slavery and working as a slave until he was 16 said,

“It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” 

With these words, he introduced the world to the power of perspective. Perspective is the ability to respond to obstacles, challenges and disappointments and declare they will not have the final word.

As perspective improves so does your ability to impact a world that desperately needs the gift of your unique talents and ability. If you covet perspective, you can develop it by utilizing a four simple strategies.

  1. Remember what is important. Prioritize the roles you play in your life and honor them with a commitment of your time, talent and resources.
  2. When presented with an obstacle, a challenge or a disappointment, develop the habit of saying, “That’s good!” By shifting your thinking from the event or circumstance to your response, you will more quickly identify solutions and take positive action.
  3. Build your motivational/inspirational foundation. Read books that inspire you, listen to music that lifts your spirits, and develop friendships and associate with people who have optimistic outlooks.
  4. Anticipate obstacles. Few things go exactly as we plan. When you consistently ask, “What obstacles might present themselves?,” you will be better prepared.

We do not get to choose all the circumstances in our lives. But when the obstacles, challenges, and disappointments present themselves we can turn them into opportunities by employing the power of perspective.

What do you think? Take a moment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.


2 comments on “4 Steps to Unlocking the Power of Perspective”

  1. There are so many ways in which taking a moment and considering your response can change EVERYTHING. Your note to always first respond "That's good!" is a great one. I have found that, delivered aloud, it can clear your mood and the mood of your entire team.

    1. Jason, great to hear from you. Leaders responses in the face of adversity can and do change the mood and direction of teams. I do not always find it easy to do but it certainly is effective.

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