Here’s Some Perspective

Earlier this week I was involved in a long-term vision planning session at our church. I love strategy sessions like this, because any strategy session I’ve ever been a part of, be it for work, church, or family, has yielded a number of differing perspectives and ideas from the people assembled.  Never once has everyone in a group shown up with the exact same perspective.  In fact, if that were to ever happen, I’d assume that the wrong people had been assembled for the task.

Different perspectives are crucial in setting direction and strategy, or for making decisions that will impact a larger group of people.  However, they can cause tension and frustration, which isn’t a bad thing.  Group members just need to understand these key points regarding peoples’ perspectives:

  • The perspectives of others are just a real and true to them as our perspectives are to us. As a result, we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss someone’s perspective simply because it doesn’t align with our own.
  • When we fail to consider the perspectives of others, we miss an opportunity to get a better understanding about how others within the larger group may be thinking. If on person has a particular perspective, it’s likely other do as well.
  • If we dismiss or ignore someone’s perspective in the decision making process, simply because it is different from ours, we can have a high degree of confidence that we will not be getting their buy-in to whatever decision is made.

We can learn a lot about people and groups of people when we listen with genuine interest to understand their perspective and where it comes from.  I think one of the highest honors we can pay someone is to listen to and seek to understand their perspective, even when we don’t agree with it at first.

The next time you are in a conversation where there are differing perspectives, don’t be too quick to dismiss the ones that don’t align with your own.  Instead, use the difference as an opportunity to gain some understanding as to where the other person is coming from. Not only will you possibly gain some new understanding, you’ll most likely be making a connection with a fellow human being as well.

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Know What It Costs

I’ve been doing some research on mutual fund fees lately (I know, really exciting!) to determine what some investments actually cost. It’s pretty easy to go along for several years without even knowing what an investment is costing you, unless you dig in and find out.  Knowing the cost of an investment is important, because without this piece of information, you may not be able to tell if the investment is worth making.

The same is true for how we’re investing our time.  Have you ever thought about the cost of a habit done over an extended period of time?  Take the habit of eating fast food for lunch every day.  There’s obviously the monetary cost, but consider the health cost you’ll pay as a result of prolonged poor nutrition and the impact that will have on your lifestyle.  A very real cost, indeed!

On the other hand, there is also a cost to exercising and engaging in physical activity every day.  There’s the cost of getting out of bed early, giving up your lunch hour, or getting home later after work, so you can have time to go to the gym or do some exercise at home.  However, this cost over time yields a very significant and positive return!  The cost of this habit seems worth it when compared to the return.

Are there any activities you’re currently doing where the cost is bringing about the positive results you desire, or at least getting you closer to a goal you’ve set, or the life you desire to live?  If so, I encourage you to stick with it.  However, if there are activities you’re currently doing that have a significant cost, but yield poor or negative results, perhaps it’s time to revisit your objectives and maybe even change course.

The important thing for us is to know the cost of the activities we devote our resources toward, and determine if that cost is worth it.

I’m Ok With That

Two and a half months ago I started a position with a new organization as a Data Analyst.  I’ve been extremely happy with the change and continue to be excited by tall the opportunity.  The only thing I wish were different was that I was further along in the learning process.

I love learning new things.  To gain knowledge and successfully apply it in a real life situation is exciting and causes me to be eager to go to work every day.  However, two things I have to continually remind myself are that:

  1. Learning is a process that takes time and consistency
  2. I have to be ok with that

When it comes to learning, I’d always like to shorten the process and spend less time fumbling around as new concepts slowly become familiar, so that I can start contributing sooner.    The reality is that I can never gain understanding or mastery of a topic if I’m not comfortable with the discomfort that comes during the learning process.

If you’re currently in the process of learning something new (which I hope you are) and perhaps you’re frustrated with process that may be slower than you’d like, be encouraged, because you’re on the right track!  Just know that your commitment to the learning process will pay off in understanding, if not mastery, of the topic.  And if it takes longer than you’d like, be ok with that.

Goals Aren’t Enough

It’s getting close to the time of year when people will start looking ahead to 2017, and part of that process will likely included listing goals for the upcoming year.  It’s an exciting and encouraging activity that I enjoy doing; however, my thoughts about goals shifted slightly this week after listening to Jon Gordon on Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership podcast.

Goals are great because the provide direction for where we’d like to arrive in the future.  Consider the following goals:

  • Earn $X per year
  • Lose 30 pounds
  • Earn a degree
  • Complete a marathon or other significant physical activity
  • Buy a house
  • Pay off a debt

Those are all great goals, and similar to what many people list at the beginning of each year. But here’s where my thinking has changed.  I think that just a list of goals is incomplete and misses the mark, because the list alone says nothing about how these goals will be attained.  What’s missing from the list is our commitment

Consider our list of goals above.   It’s aspirational, for sure, but that’s about it.  Now consider that same list with a corresponding list of actions we’re willing to commit to in order to bring these goals about.

Our revised list might look like the following

My Goal My Commitment
Earn $X per year Study 1 hour per day toward the mastery of a marketable skill that would yield the salary I desire.
Lose 30 pounds Stop eating sugary snacks and fast food and instead opting for healthy whole food alternatives.
Earn a degree Devote 2 hours after work on week nights and 8 hours during the weekends to study and class attendance.
Complete a marathon or other significant physical activity Work with a coach to develop a training and nutrition plan and adhere to it.
Buy a house Save X% of my earnings to apply toward a down payment.
Pay off a debt Stop using credit cards and cut out discretionary spending and instead throw that money toward eliminating debt.

 

Now that’s a much more compelling list!  Not only is it aspirational, it has more “punch” because it describes what we’re willing to commit to in order to achieve the goal.  Without commitment, we’re relegated to just hoping our goals come to pass.

As you’re considering goals for 2017, I encourage you to join me in also listing what you’ll commit to doing in order to achieve each goal.  I think we’ll be amazed by what we can accomplish when we add commitment to the equation.