What’s So Great About Perspective Anyway?
Perspective is one of those words that rarely gets the credit it deserves. Usually when we think of it as, “It’s my way of looking at things.”
When I explain StratPlan to someone, I say that we spend a great deal of time gaining perspective. That’s when they usually look at one of us with a confused look like, “You’re kidding. How much perspective could you possibly need?”
To tell you the truth, for a long time I’ve coached leaders and entrepreneurs by getting perspective on their business, and how they got to where they are. Then I tell them exactly what they need to do, and HOPE they do it.
Let me say that these events are having stellar results, and while I always receive great testimonies, I wanted to dig much further in-depth.
Why? Because I know what can be done when I completely pull the business apart, give “perspective” to leadership, and put it back together with the most important things for them to focus on… usually things that NOBODY saw coming.
Which brings us to what we open every StratPlan with: an Eastern cultural way of looking at things…
In our Western culture we have a fast way of solving problems. “Have a problem? Fix it!” We have a tendency to go straight to the problem and fix it right away (represented by the straight line).
Many Eastern cultures, however, have a different way of solving problems. They go towards the problem, and then spend a decent amount of time circling the problem, gaining perspective through analysis and diagnostics. If you turn the diagram on it’s side, it’s a spiral upward to the point when the best decisions will be made.
In fact, people from Eastern cultures will circle a problem until they have the right amount of perspective to make a decision.
Bringing The East To The West
When people come in for StratPlan, they always come with a set ideas of what’s wrong in their business. I usually set those aside because I understand that their beliefs are usually not their biggest issues. When they leave, people often say the event was way greater than they ever expected!
For years people have asked me, “How in the world did you figure that out about our business? How could you see that?” To which I say, “It’s easy. I’ve been doing this for a REALLY long time, and I’m not emotionally attached to your business.”
You see, our first step in EVERY StratPlan is to get perspective. Once we have it, we can not only fix just about anything, but see the HUGE opportunities being missed.
To offer an example of how StratPlan can transform businesses: one of our clients walked away with a plan to increase their revenues THREE MILLION IN TWELVE MONTHS!!
How? Simple: three days of us ripping their business apart, finding missed opportunities, finding the major problems that needed addressing, and putting it all back together with an ACTUAL working plan!
None of that could be done without perspective.
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38 thoughts on “What’s So Great About Perspective Anyway?”
“The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” – Mark Twain
It’s all in how you see it. Is the current state of circumstances a problem, or an opportunity? Is the task impossible, or has that word been struck from your vocabulary?
I’m curious about what people think makes up perspective. Is it just feelings, gut or intuition, or is it factual, or made up of more than all of the above?
Love the Mark Twain quote!
I think perspective is made up of “more than all of the above”.
Yep, great quote Erik!
Agreed Laura, perspective is everything. It limits or expands possibilities, it changes expectations, and it even shapes outcomes.
I just wish changing perspective was as easy as changing a light bulb…
Good point Erik. I think it’s goes back to the worldview. Without a worldview in mind, we can easily lose track of our “why”
I love the Mark Twain quote, especially seeing it after I just wrote a little comment about the difference in words. I could continue that thought here:
Perspective is simple: it is what you see.
Perception is something entirely different: it is what you take in.
I like your definitions, Jon.
Number one thing I’ve been told at all my job and volunteer positions… I’m very perceptive.
Now if only I could perceive my life’s purpose 😉
I love that concept of going around and around problem to gain a better perspective, leading to the best answer. I’m definitely grateful for your help in gaining better perspective for myself. Your advice has been very helpful (only hindered by the dufus typing this), not just for my business, but for the other areas of my life. If I’m going to get the business where it’s supposed to be, the rest of my life has to line up as well – otherwise there will be continuous battles.
Thanks again for the perspective – and for the cute drawing to demonstrate it 🙂
Yes. The cute drawing is nice. 🙂
Great perspective – I was re-listening to the interview with Jim Collins yesterday – putting the two together:
Circling the problem allows you to gather more information until the risk profile for not making a choice is about to change. Then you are well positioned to make the call!
HAHAHA…I almost included that, but it would have been too many words. That’s awesome that you brought it up!!
My hubby has Western culture perspective and I have Eastern culture perspective. I just don’t have the years of practice you do, Chris 😉
My husband and I balance each other out pretty well. Whenever we make a decision he’s ready to jump in with both feet. Sometimes I have to work on that part.
Stoked!! I agree ‘perspective’ rarely gets its deserved credit.
It always seems like a problem solving day, day by day. I’m taking the next two weeks to review the past four years and really gain perspective on work, hobbies, and family. I would have called it soul searching before this post. Now I call it, “gaining perspective.”
Thank you, Chris.
Ever wonder why the words “perspective” and “prospective” are so similar in nature, even though they have totally different origins and meanings?
Perspective is the evaluation of what is: what can be visually seen. Gaining perspective overcomes the notion that there are things one can’t see. In business, this is often true.
Prospective describes the future: what is likely and expected. This is what Chris alluded to with the 3 million dollar growth plan.
The two are innumerably related; seeking one often requires the other, and growing in one gains in the other.
Jon, every time I read your comments I imagine like a Monk, or Chinese philosopher speaking… I’m just saying. They’re always so deep! Maybe you should start providing your comments in short fortune-cookie like statements. Start them with the phrase “Man who…”
🙂 Great point. I had not noticed the similarities between the two words.
Perspective is so key – without it you will be treating the symptoms without really getting down to the core of the issue. Love when you dig deep and discover how changing one thing – a mindset or direction – can create a whole new dynamic for your team. Great post Chris!
“To a real warrior, power perceived may be power achieved.” I asked my wife what she thought this quote meant in my podcast test run this morning. I agree with you Chris. I believe when we have the right perspective, life can lead to amazing results.
A) I am so busy.
B) I am in high demand!
A) I have to hire someone else.
B) I GET to hire someone else to help me grow my business!
I went through that recently. The dread, the overwhelm, and the self-pity. Until I changed my perspective. Then every negative became a positive. And I was off to the races!
Great example! When we make decisions quickly we will almost always make them on emotion…and often times, that will lead to a poor (or just not a great) decision!
Makes me think of The Karate Kid. Patience! Wax on, wax off!
You do kind of remind me of Mr. Miyagi.
It’s the wisdom and quiet lethality, right???
Maybe more the height, I’m thinking…
No, I’m pretty sure he meant wisdom 😉
Question is, can you catch flies with chopsticks?
As a matter of fact I can! …if its dead or sleeping!
First off Chris, when you say “I’ve been doing this a REALLY long time” it makes you sound old…just saying!
Second. Great post! It’s so true, in this culture we are all about fixing a problem the second we recognize it. The thing that I’ve found is that typically the problem we see isn’t actually the problem, its a symptom of the problem.
One thing that I do when I meet with folks is I ask a lot of questions, listen to them, then tell them that I’ll meet with them in a week and we’ll discuss possible solutions and action plans then. See, often, I don’t think the best ideas and perspective can be gained right away, you need to (in your words) circle the problem for awhile and look at it from every possible angle before making plans and determining solutions.
Great post! Can’t wait until I can sit down in one of those sessions with you!
Perspective is huge! Have you ever had a chance to read Andy Andrew’s The Noticer? It gives some great insight on this very subject.
Eating surf and turf with an ocean view :0)
It adds to my perspective when I read your blog Chris. Thank you.
It’s interesting that you briefly compared eastern and western culture. This morning on my blog, I did the same.
“No matter how hard one toils, the blooming of a flower cannot be rushed. But isn’t that exactly what we do?”
I’ve been working on identifying what is the “it” that people comment on when they recognize something I have done well. I get comments like “you have so much energy, you don’t give up, you communicate well…” and so on. I realized 10 years ago I shifted my perspective. Through a series of planned (and many unplanned) actions, I have been able to change the way I see my life. I went from comfortable to adventurous and risk-taking… and it’s still the same old me. :0) Chris, I’m very excited about what you are doing to help entrepreneurs find that perspective.
Hi, great point…I think I might have the right perspective on this now 🙂
I”m currently in a Bible study that shows the difference between looking at the scriptures in the Eastern lens as opposed to our Western lens and it’s very interesting.
This is so true. In life, as well as in business!! When we dive straight in to fix a problem, we miss two key points. The problem is merely a symptom of something larger that needs to be addressed. We also miss out on what opportunities can be opened up.
When I teach people to draw, a common mistake is to put in tons of detail too soon. It might be great detail, but if it is the wrong size or in the wrong location, it has to be redone. You’ve got to draw the dog before you draw the fleas, and you can only do that if you step far enough back to view the entire picture.
Hmmm, in drawing and painting, perspective is the ability to fake the 3rd dimension of depth onto a 2-dimensional surface. I doubt if there is any correlation between that type of perspective and the type we are discussing here.
My students often mix up the terms “perspective” and “proportion”. Gaining perspective on a business might mean keeping things in their proper proportions to one another.
This is very thinky stuff, CLo Tribe!
To the degree that you can gain a greater perspective on a problem the better decision you can make. Similar to working with people, the more you can understand where they are coming from the greater influence you can have in their life.
I get the same responses from my clients when I give them perspective in their lives. Thank you for giving me some words to express better how this work. I like the image from the Eastern Cultures.