Getting A New Perspective

I was starting to get stressed.  Just days away from going on vacation, I still had a big task I needed to complete at work before I left, and it didn’t feel like I was going to get done in time.

Four days before vacation, a colleague who is working on the same project stopped by to see how it was going.  I told him that I didn’t think I’d’ be able to finish my piece of the project before I left.  As I told him about what I had left to do, I could see he was thinking.

After I was done describing what I believed needed to be done, he started asking about what absolutely had to be done at this stage of the project.  As we talked through it, I realized my focus was placed too far out for this stage of the project.  We didn’t need a 100% finished product; we just needed some basic functionality that could be delivered to the end users as a first iteration.

With this new perspective, I realized that I’d easily be able to deliver my portion of the project before I left for vacation.  In fact, I was able to deliver with 2 days to spare!

I’m so thankful my colleague came by and gave me a different perspective.  Our conversation and his suggestions shifted my focus toward what needed to be done at a specific stage in the project, rather than what needed to be delivered as a finished product.

Are you stuck in a false mindset or stressing about how to get something done?  I suggest talking to a friend, colleague or someone else who can give you a new perspective on your situation.  You might just realize that you’re stressing out for no reason.

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What We Don’t Know

We think we know more than we actually do.  Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario What we think
Someone cuts us off in traffic. They are mean-spirited jerks and did that to us on purpose.
Someone is short or rude with us. They are also a jerk, just like the person who cut us off in traffic!  What a jerk.  What a rude jerk!
We reach out to someone via email, text, or phone call and they don’t respond. They must be mad at us.

The “What we think” column sounds rather petty as I write this, but I’ll admit that I’ve often made quick judgments in similar scenarios.   What I’ve discovered is that my quick judgments, like the ones above, are seldom, if ever, accurate.

What if, for example:

  • The person who cut us off in traffic didn’t see us when they were getting over and would have been mortified to know they had done that.
  • The person who was short with me just got a bad medical diagnoses about themselves or a loved one.
  • The person who didn’t respond to an email or text has been preoccupied with an urgent family emergency or has just been busy and hasn’t had the chance to respond, even though they have been thinking about us.

The next time we’re presented with a similar scenario, let’s consider something besides or initial negative judgement; perhaps a response with a little more grace and understanding.  Just like the type of response we’d like to receive.

Different Perspectives

It’s easy to put a plan together when you’re the only person creating the plan.  As soon as you get another person involved in the planning, it gets even more difficult, because the other person has their own thoughts and beliefs about how the plan should look.  And you can be assured that their plan is not 100% like yours.

The larger the group, the more challenging it becomes to reach agreement because there are so many different ideas, beliefs, and perspectives that are shaping each person’s idea of what an ideal plan or strategy should look like.  This gives me an appreciation for the work required of a large group to come to an agreement.  And by “large group”, I’m referring to any group with greater than 1 person.

Being aware of differing ideas, beliefs, and perspectives in a team environment reminds me that just because someone has a different idea or plans than I do, doesn’t mean that they’re against my plan or ideas, or that they “just don’t get it”.  Rather, it reminds me that they likely have a perspective that I don’t or a belief that I don’t hold.  Whatever the case, they are bringing a proposal that aligns with how they see the problem, and also how they believe it should be solved.  And that’s good, because without their input, I would not have considered their perspective.

The next time you’re in a group of people that are trying to create a plan or make a decision, resist the urge to become frustrated when people don’t come to the same conclusions that you do.  Instead, see it as an opportunity to understand how another group or person might view the situation.  Who knows, you might even have your own perspective changed.

Grateful for the Experience

Early last Sunday morning I was driving home from a weekend fly fishing trip in Central Oregon.  The temperature was a pleasant 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) under a cloudless, sunny blue sky.  It is mornings like this that make me feel especially blessed to be alive.

Since my wife was out of town, I decided to take my time getting home and enjoy being out in such a beautiful part of the state on a morning like this.  It was great!  I stopped at to look at a scenic landmark, walked through the town of Sisters Oregon, and read the Bible along the banks of the awe-inspiring Metolius River.  I felt recharged, inspired, and invigorated.

MetoliusAs I realized it was time to start making my way home, I was a little saddened that my wonderful morning was about over.  I didn’t want it to end.

Have you ever felt like that?  You’re having such a great time that the thought of it coming to an end is rather sad.  That’s how I felt this particular morning.

However, my wonderful morning reminded me of the following quote:  “Don’t be sad it’s over; be grateful you had the experience.”

Sure, it can be sad when something you enjoy comes to an end, like:

  • A fun time away from the regular routine.
  • A visit from a friend or relative.
  • The end of a rewarding job or career.
  • The loss of a beloved pet.
  • A child leaving home.
  • An enjoyable vacation/holiday.

But consider how blessed you were to have had the opportunity to create the memories those things produced.

The next time you’re feeling sad at the end of an enjoyable experience, make the mental shift from sadness to gratitude.  Be grateful for memories you just made, while eagerly looking forward to the new ones yet to come.

Perspective

A few weeks ago my wife and I were delayed while driving home over the Oregon Cascades on Highway 22.  There was an accident a few miles ahead of us that shut down traffic in both directions for 3 hours.   We certainly hadn’t anticipated that.

I can remember a time in my past when a delay like this, or even one much shorter, would have caused me great frustration and irritation.  Fortunately, I don’t get irritated over things like this anymore.  What has helped me most in this area is making sure I take a moment and actually put things in the proper perspective.

Yes, we were delayed for 3 hours, but we were also very fortunate that we weren’t involved in the accident ahead of us.  I’m sure the people who were involved would much rather have only been delayed versus having their car damaged, being injured, or experiencing loss of life.  With that perspective in mind, it made it really hard for me to get upset and start complaining, especially when I’m sitting in the beautiful Oregon Cascades with my wife, knowing we’ll be on our way soon.  In light of that, I really had nothing to complain about.

I think that when we lack the proper perspective, we often let little things frustrate us unnecessarily.

The next time you find yourself getting frustrated, pause for a moment and make sure you have the proper perspective on the situation.  If you don’t, then change your perspective.  It’s a great way to not only alleviate unnecessary stress and frustration.  It’s also a great reminder of what we have to be grateful for.

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.

Seeing Beauty

My wife and I recently made a visit to Crater Lake National Park.  Although we had been there several times before, (we’re fortunate to live relatively close to this gem) I was once again captivated by the overwhelming beauty of this natural treasure.

Crater Lake

A video playing at the park’s Visitor Center described how the natural beauty of Crater Lake that we see today is the result of a very violent volcanic past.  A severe eruption of Mt. Mazama left the area looking like a “moonscape”, as described by the park video.  However, years of wind and weather have transformed the once barren site to the beautiful lake we see today.

The beauty of the lake is unmistakable.  It got me thinking that there are people who are a lot like Crater Lake.  Not that they have “off-the-charts” physical beauty, but rather they have beauty that comes from a decision to choose a positive response to a significant “eruption” in their own life experience.  For example, they choose to:

  • Be victorious versus defeated.
  • Focus on what they are grateful for versus what they’ve lost.
  • Encourage others facing the same or similar experience.
  • Live their life with purpose regardless of past circumstances.

These, and similar choices, to past “eruptions” in life make for a beautiful person.

Seeing physical beauty in nature, like Crater Lake, is easy.  However, seeing beauty as a result of people’s difficult life experience is not always as obvious.

As we’re interacting with others, let’s remember that we’re often not aware of what they have experienced in life.  And, if you’re ever blessed to have someone share their past “eruption” with you and how they have chosen a positive path forward… stand in awe at the beauty before you.