When I first learned about perspectives way back in 2004 during my coach training at the Coaches Training Institute it was a revelation for me. There’s more than one way to look at something? Not just one way? Not just my way?
It’s kinda like owning a bunch of different colored sunglasses and being able to choose the way one wants to see things at any given time. I was further blown away by the fact that I could choose how I wanted to look at something be it my life’s circumstances, an event, a person, my dreams, my fears, and….that my choice impacted at a deep level how I felt. So I came to realize that how I look at something affects how I feel and how I feel leads me to see different possibilities and when I make a conscious choice I walk through my life in an empowered way. This was an incredible turning point for me. Since that time this concept has become a primary part of my life that I don’t question all that much. I’ve since forgotten what it’s like to be so stuck
in a perspective that I feel like my reality is never going to change. Even when I do get stuck a little piece of me remains aware. That little voice say’s “come on, you know there’s more than one way to look at this, why are you choosing a perspective that makes you feel rotten?”. This alone shifts me.
I was working with a client a couple weeks ago. A leader with many years experience. This person was stuck in a perspective and it was not a pretty one. No…it was the kind of perspective that takes one down into the dark doldrums where life sucks. I know the territory. I was reminded that not everyone is aware that one can shift a perspective, change how one feels, be at choice and make a positive change. I decided to do some perspectives work with this person and WOW what a shift. It was magical. Everything from this person’s tone of voice to facial expression softened. There was light at the end of the tunnel…new possibility. A whole new world opened up. As a result I pulled out this tool, dusted it off and am using it once again with clients. It is an incredibly effective leadership tool for those of you responsible for people.
I’ve outlined the steps below and encourage you to give it a try. You can even do this with teams of people to explore different ways of looking at topics such as change, conflict, diversity, communication, and planning.
1. First, identify the topic you want to explore, name it and write it down. Choose something light and easy to start with. For instance, I’ll use Leadership in this example.
1. On a piece of blank paper or a paper plate draw a circle and create 8 pie wedges.
1. Now, identify your current perspective on this topic. Whatever that is in this moment. For instance, the perspective I am in regarding leadership right now might be as follows: IT’S NOT FOR ME or I’M NOT A GOOD LEADER. Write this in one of the pie wedges and explore it fully using the following questions:
* How do you feel when you are in this perspective?
* What do you notice about yourself here?
* How do you experience it in your body?
* What’s the cost of being here?
* What’s good about this place?
* What’s possible or not possible in this place?
Make sure you identify the sensory experience of this perspective.
1. Once you have done this get up and move your body to a different place in the room. This is called moving your body georgraphy and it’s a really effective way to shift your experience. Feel free to use anything in the environment to inspire a perspective. I’ve been know to get amazing insights by seeing a bird fly by during this exercise and asking myself what the birds perspective might be? Moving your body is important so make sure you get up and move each time you identify a new perspective.
1. Go around and fill in each of the 8 wedges with a new perspective based on the steps above. Once you are done then once again swiftly move around to each place you stood or sat in while exploring each perspective on last time and get a feel for it.
1. Now make a choice. Commit to the perspective that you find most useful at this for you. There is no good or bad here. Whatever is right for you is right for you. There is always something to learn.
1. Once you have chosen a perspective ask yourself the following questions:
* What’s my commitment here?
* What’s possible when I’m in the place?
* What am I saying NO to when I’m here?
* What am I saying YES to when I’m here?
* What can I be counted on for here?
Now, as you move forward in your day to day life notice when you ARE or ARE NOT in the perspective you committed to and see if you can shift yourself. It’s also useful to notice what perspectives you hold around other things in your life? Are you at conscious choice or are you stuck in a perspective that no longer serves you. When you do get stuck ask yourself what perspective your are in and make a choice?
This process can be used individually or with groups of people to explore various ways of looking at things and making conscious choices.
Enjoy the process!