In my experience…Perspective matters
I was at a collegiate soccer match recently and crossed paths with the winning coach afterward. I said, “Good game, coach”, because despite missed chances and the inevitable missteps, his team outplayed the other and won. His response told me he didn’t feel the same.
My daughters are at the same university this year and are frequently seen together. Students who have never met my younger daughter before have asked if they’re twins. They’re two years a part in age with different hair color / styles, different heights and complexions.
Within the last few years, a business I invested in ceased to exist. There were many contributing factors. Those of us who were insiders saw some of the warning signs and missed others. Outsiders were either totally shocked at the news or saw it coming all along.
In my experience, perspective matters. As the saying goes, there are two (or more) sides to every story. Over time I’ve become more diligent about purposefully trying to see beyond my own perspective. Sometimes it’s easy to do and other times it’s not. However, when I’m able to see another perspective, it’s powerful. It can be enlightening, discouraging, insightful, maddening, thrilling, guilt-inducing, etc. Regardless, I always find it to be a learning experience and an instance of personal growth.
The example above about my interaction with the soccer coach is what I call Observational Perspective. I was merely a spectator at the game. Granted, I wanted his team to win and was pleased when they did, but I didn’t have any influence or stake in the game other than a little pride. My perspective was one of positivity that they won and for the most part played well.
I’ve been a coach (not at the collegiate level) so I’m somewhat familiar with how coaches view games. In this case, he was certainly pleased they won but also frustrated with the missed opportunities, mistakes and injuries. From his perspective, except for the injuries, the missed opportunities and mistakes were likely things the team covered in numerous practices for the sole purpose of not letting them happen in games. As a coach he notices the positives but focuses on the developmental needs because that’s how growth and long-term success are built over the course of a season or several seasons.
This could also be called Proximity Perspective. The fact that my daughters were mistaken for twins is funny to me. As mentioned above, I think they look completely different. I’ve watched them grow from birth until college-age today and I’ll concede that they have similar mannerisms and maybe the shape of their eyes is the same, but other than that I don’t see it. For those people that have never seen them before or possibly only one of them, the perspective is different when they see them either together or separate…they must be twins.
We find this humorous each time we hear about it, but it’s no longer surprising to us. Familial (or Proximity) Perspective occurs anytime one party has close and / or long-term exposure to something or someone and another party doesn’t. Obviously, the two parties will have different perspectives. This isn’t to say one or both are right or wrong, rather just different.
Professional Perspective is different than Observational Perspective in that these are areas where I have a vested, measurable interest (time, $, career, etc). It’s different from Familial Perspective because it’s usually an arm’s length perspective vs a family or otherwise close association perspective. That said, the lines between these various perspectives are not always clear.
In our professions we each operate and make decisions on a different set of facts, motivators and capabilities. In the situation above where the business ceased operations, the perspectives of the insiders were as varied as the perspectives of the outsiders. We all brought our own skills, experiences and biases to the table. Sometimes a confluence of capabilities like that works and sometimes it doesn’t. The point here isn’t to dissect this particular situation, rather to acknowledge the wide variance in perspectives about an event and the potential learnings.
Professionally-speaking, I know what drives me and my perspective. It’s easy for me to let this dominate and unduly influence other areas of my life. That’s where the balance between my own internal perspectives needs to happen. Sometimes that’s a battle, sometimes it’s a no-brainer.
There are likely many other categories of perspectives, but these are the three that I seem to run across most frequently. My takeaway is that when possible I’d rather understand others’ perspectives and make more informed decisions, than only have my perspective to rely on. Recognizing and seeking to understand different perspectives than my own has helped me exist, interact, understand and contribute better.
Special thanks to Frank Bonura, whose insightful perspective and entrepreneurial ability help others realize their goals, and to Dianna Raedle, who recognized of the value of brokering relationships between constituents coming from different perspectives, and built a business around it.