Though those that grew up with me would laugh, I am often asked how I stay calm in various, stressful situations. The reason my friends and family from long ago would laugh is that I’m not known by them as having an even temper. I’m passionate about life and that comes out pretty clearly and quickly, but what I’ve learned from my experience that they haven’t seen… perspective.
HSBC has been running an ad campaign for about a year that hits perspective well. The ads juxtapose two images with labels, then show the images again with the labels switched. My favorites:
- Baby picture next to a computer picture with the labels work and play.
- Drugs (legal) next to herbs with labels useful and useless.
- Stilettos next to chile pepper with labels pleasure and pain.
With each of these I can remember my own perspective turning point. I am not and never have been interested in having children, and earlier, I often wondered why anyone woud do it. As my friends have had kids and I’ve gotten up close and personal with kids, I’ve seen what a sense of fulfillment and happiness children can bring. It has not changed my beliefs for my life, but it does make me much more calm and centered when I’m sitting on a flight next to a screaming, breast feeding baby. (I am completely serious.)
In business, even when I don’t have specific experience perspective, I do ask myself, “Why would that be happening?” And then try to realize what different perspectives there might be. This helps come to not only a sense of calm about the status, but a set of possible solutions based on different perspectives.
As I am writing this, I’m reminded of a Dan and Chip Heath Fast Company Make Goals Not Resolutions article from this Winter. Their analysis of how you achieve your resolutions is to visualize how you are going to reach what you want. Perspective is exactly that… visualization from different angles. In this case, it is to understand and succeed.
What is on my shirt today? In another post, I’m going to cover my thoughts on Danny Meyer’s book Setting the Table, which is an extraordinary book on business and hospitality. He introduces the word
as a South African greeting, which was translated as “I see you.” As Danny says, “That simply and effectively addresses the core human need to be seen and to feel seen.” To me, understanding someone’s perspective is the best way to really see them.