Perspective Matters!

Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems
Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems

One of my strengths as a leader is my lack of certainty. (You may recall it also one of my weaknesses.) For many years I reveled in my ability to make snap judgments and decisions. I believed that I was right 98 percent of the time. It led to much unhappiness. It also achieved results.

One of the CTI coaching workshops is called Perspective and it changed my life and leadership. The basic premise is you start with a statement that you feel fairly certain about, but one that is unsatisfactory. For example, “I am not an athlete and I am going to suffer on RAGBRAI (upcoming 7 day ride).” Then you move physically (as simple as standing up and turning around) and make an opposite statement (even if you do not believe it). For example, “I am an athlete and I am going to kick RAGBRAI’s butt.”  Then you take on other perspectives and make other statements, each time moving physically. Ultimately you will land on a perspective that resonates and is sometimes far from where you started.

This process enables me to find a perspective that serves my goals and is actually closer to the Truth. It also helps me hold my judgments more lightly and as a result I suffer less.

Today I found a children’s book by Mo Willems from the Elephant & Piggie series, Are You Ready to Play Outside?  Gerald the elephant asks Piggie if he is ready to play outside. Piggie can hardly wait to run and jump and play outside. Then it starts to rain and Piggie’s perspective is that it is the end of the world. He cannot play outside. Then he sees two worms playing in the rain and he gains a new perspective. Just as he begins to relish playing in the rain, the rain stops. Now Piggie is again upset. Then Gerald provides rain via his trunk and Piggie is happy again. It is a perfect illustration of how easily we can get stuck and unstuck in a perspective.

It sounds so obvious, yet in my experience it is hard to practice. With the work on the Delta projects, it is easy to adopt one way of looking at issues and to stop asking good questions and get stuck in a perspective even when it no longer serves my stake or most accurately reflects the Truth.

Try it and share your discoveries with me.

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