The Power of Perspective
The Car Caper
When my husband turned 40, he got himself the cliché mid-life crisis sports car.
Our kids were still at home, so he had to settle for the only 4-door sports car he liked: an Infinity G35. It was a gorgeous car hot off the market assembly lines. He loved the way the car looked and handled, but most crucial was the way it made him feel.
A week or so after he bought his car, he went out for haircut and a ride. He went down one of the longer roads for a little straightaway ride to ensure his speedometer was working correctly, then back toward home.
At a red light, he noticed a group of girls in the car next to him, looking over and smiling. This was post-haircut, so he must have been think he was on fire. The light turned green and he stepped on the gas to give a little show. At the next red light, there was another woman looking over and waving at him. He was Mr. Popular!
At the next red light, a man pulled up beside him and honked his horn at him, saying something through the window and waving frantically.Even the men couldn’t resist.After this series of ego-boosts, my husband pulled into a gas station to fill up his car.
When he got out, he noticed the man at the next pump standing in front of the car and staring.
My husband tried to ignore him. Surely, the man was just entranced by the G35.
When the man realized my husband was unaware of his dire situation, he asked him, “Sir, did you realize you have a giant duck sticking out of your grill?”
Sure enough, that’s what everyone was trying to tell him. Apparently, a duck had flown right into his grill in his final act of protest, and my husband hadn’t even noticed. He was too caught up in his perspective. He let his ego get to him and color his interpretation of all the ogling passersby.
Have you ever been driving and you have an urgent text you need to send? The red light is a great ally then.
But what about when you’re bolting home at rally speeds to go to the bathroom? The red light is the embodiment of evil.
I had lunch with a dear friend last week who’s been going through some things and wanted some coaching to help him around it.
At one point during our conversation, he said, “Berta, you’re always such a glass-half full type of person.”
“Actually” I told him, the older I get the more I realize that the glass is ALWAYS full. It could be full of crap or full of honey. And even then, if it’s full of crap, are you a fly or a germophobe? If it’s full of honey, are you a bear or a diabetic? It’s all in the way you look at things.”
Perspective won't do you a whole lot of good if you're not willing to practice using it every day. Here are a few simple ways to reorient your habitual thinking so you can explore all the angles.
*Putting yourself in the other person's shoes.
It's old advice but it's quite a sage exercise if you take time with it. The more emotional you are about a situation, the harder it'll be. But just for a moment, try to see things from the perspective of whoever you're in conflict with. Most of the time, it'll humble your reflexive responses.
*Bringing someone in from the outside who can help you view things from a different point of view.
Talking through things with anyone can really help you see things differently. Because we're all predisposed to our opinions, we color everything we experience. When you just allow someone to tell you their side of your story, you can see it from the view of an outsider.
*Stop, drop (what you're doing) and stroll.
When you're caught up in not being able to see the alternate side, stop what you're doing and head out for a walk, run or a workout.
*Write stuff down!
Writing is a powerful tool; it's why lots of achievers are also avid journalers. Your thoughts, especially in times of high stress, are astormin your head. When you take the time to sit down and put it into words on paper, you can get a cleaner view of thepointinstead of all the ancillary stuff that your brain throws into the mix.