Changing perspectives is a gift most choose not to use.
It isn’t easy—changing perspectives.
But, when you do, oh wow. It leads to new questions. New queries lead to new information which leads you to new considerations.
When it happens, and you end up changing your point of view, your decision-making grows in strength.
Without it, it's like you're trapped in a tunnel.
The strong concrete walls hold back gravity's urge to fill the space you’re in. Your only view is the one right in front of you. Darkness fills the void between you and the distant white dot which marks your point of exit.
In physical terms, you're trapped.
But, as we will explore—and as Yuval Noah Harari explains in his fascinating book, Sapiens, we have a unique skill. One that sets us apart from other species and also helps us when it comes to changing perspectives.
Your Perspective isn’t Just What You See
We see far more with our minds than our eyes.
Our eyes are incredible. They enable us to see the bright of day and the dark of night, the orange leaves of fall, the deep lilac shades of lavender, and the haze of a distant hill. But our minds take us even further.
Minds create images beyond our eyes.
There may be no greater painter than our imagination.
What we view, we judge. We form opinions and grow beliefs on the information we absorb with our eyes and imagine in our minds. Misused, our imagination creates cul-de-sacs of unchallenged perspectives we use to make decisions.
We then use these perspectives to form assumptions that influence future choices.
“The eyesight for an eagle is what thought is to a man.”―Dejan Stojanovic
Our greatest strength is our ability to use thoughts from our dreams and ambitions to form perspectives beyond what we see.
Our greatest weakness is our failure to use the opportunity of changing perspectives to help us form new views of what we’re doing—or going to do.
It isn’t so much about us changing perspectives.
We update our opinions and beliefs frequently. What we don’t do is use this unique ability deliberately. Here is where the good of new perspectives can really strengthen our decisions.
How do we grasp this opportunity?
How do you change your perspective?
A perspective is a viewpoint.
Most typically, we take the situation we’re in and build upon it. We seek new information, but we also use our beliefs to judge what we learn. Our biases are adding their own filters to the viewpoint before us.
This all tends to happen subconsciously.
The shift comes from making the activity of changing perspectives a conscious one.
With it being a conscious one, we get the opportunity to select the type of view, the magnification of the view, and the range of consideration.
Deliberately changing perspectives offer us an astonishing array of actors.
But before we get to the actors, we need to get to the first part of the how.
Moving decision-making from the subconscious to the conscious is not easy. Speed is instinctive. Even though our environment no longer demands it, we accept urgency when our life doesn’t need to. It is arguably humanity's greatest weakness. The acquiescence to urgency in non-urgent situations.
The first goal must be to break this fallacy.
Yes, we need to learn to decide slowly.
Once you begin deciding slowly, your choices become conscious ones.
With conscious thought comes the opportunity on offer. Now, choice abounds as you have a multitude of actors to choose from. Each one adds different thoughts as you build new perspectives to consider your options.
Let’s have a look at a couple.
Decisions often trap us because we can’t remove ourselves as the main actor.
But what would you do if you were Steve Jobs or Elon Musk? How would Benjamin Franklin consider the situation you find yourself in? Maybe you might become Margaret Thatcher for a moment.
Whoever your hero is, you will know them well. You will know their traits, their behaviours and patterns of thought.
Elon might force you to think more granular and look for first principles. Steve Jobs might be more ruthless in his pursuit of goal alignment. Ben Franklin would pose questions, pushing you to understand first. Margaret Thatcher, well the iron lady would cut the fluff and get to the heart of the matter.
Who might feel the impact of your decision?
In a business, it most likely will be a customer. New products or new pricing should compel us to put ourselves in our customer's shoes. It’s an obvious perspective, but one often overlooked as some consider themselves superior to their customers.
A customer's viewpoint is a valuable one.
Closer to home, it might be a friend who stands to lose.
What would they do? How would they explain a similar decision? How would you feel if they did this to you?
All these questions prompt you to dig for more information. Assumptions previously unquestioned, now don’t appear so certain.
Decisions often come with external pressures.
Everything is about now. How we feel now. How others feel and what their opinions are.
It is easy to feel trapped.
Time travel helps us depart this scene and put ourselves in the past or the future. It gives us the capacity to look at the choice we face from a different lens. This subtle shift gives us the perspective of time we often forget.
In the moment, your decision is the biggest dilemma you’ll ever face.
Six months on, you might wonder what all the fuss was about. The decision didn’t change much. Unthought-of consequences occurred, reducing the impact of the choices made.
It’s only hindsight when these outcomes become known.
Time travel also gives us the opportunity to conduct a premortem.
Consider a business project fails. We tend to wait until it does and conduct an uncomfortable post-mortem. Instead, use your imagination—and your teams—to picture the failure before it happens. New insights often appear when we consider the unconsidered.
This is the premortem.
Imagining time travel brings these different—and helpful perspectives into view.
Changing Perspectives—A New Point of View
Stuck in a tunnel, our decision-making suffers the same limitations.
Imagination used consciously enables us to escape the enclosed view in front of us. This is what means changing perspectives. Gone are the walls of a restricted view.
Now, our imagination is the only limit.
Used consciously, changing perspectives offers a huge upside.
Poor decision-making occurs when we decide quickly with limited information. A healthy dose of assumptions and opinions in hand compound the choice. Conversely, good decisions occur when we seek new perspectives.
Bring in the perspectives of our heroes, other people and some time travel and things look different. The act of looking at a situation with someone else’s eyes and mind gives rise to this. New questions appear. Imagination gives us new outcomes and new solutions.
It is a powerful way to strengthen your decision-making.