The Greater Perspective

Perspective is an interesting and wonderful thing. It can work for you and against you.Which would you prefer?

A 10 year old boy, walking down the street with his mother after being at the shops.  Ahead, down the road a ways, he saw an old lady laying on the ground with the contents of her handbag strewn everywhere.  Being a kind-hearted young boy, he immediately wanted to help and began to run down the road.  As he got closer, he heard the old lady calling out, “Help! Police! Somebody help me!” which drove him on even faster.  As he finally approached the old lady, she managed to get up to her feet and swung her handbag at him yelling, “Can’t you see I’m an old lady!”

You may wonder why she reacted in such a way when the little boy was only trying to help.  This is typical, because you’re only thinking about it from one perspective – that of the little boy, or you.

Expanding this, think of another scenario, one in which an old lady was walking along and tripped on the footpath causing her to fall over.  As she fell, her handbag upended its contents across the road and she sees a young boy running at her.  Startled and concerned for her safety, she calls out “Help! Police! Somebody help me!”  From the lady’s perspective, she only saw an oncoming threat during her moment of vulnerability. There are three types of perspective – your current perspective, the alternative perspective and the greater perspective.

  • The Current Perspective is all about self
  • The Alternative Perspective is also all about self
  • The Greater Perspective is about about others

Applying this to a leadership scenario, there are four main themes that often comprise great leadership;

  • Education
  • Behaviour
  • Story
  • Guidance

Thinking about the journey of perspective from current, through alternative until we reach the Greater Perspective we can summarise thus;

Current Alternative Greater
Education Enough Learn Teach
Behaviour Same Different Model
Story Old experience New experience Invite people into a new experience
Guidance None For you For them

You can think of this simply as a journey.  As Gandhi famously said, “be the change you want to be” can be applied in so many forms.

I think Zig Ziglar said it best, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.”

Applying our new found thinking to the original scenario, we might come to a Greater Perspective.  Such an example could be an old lady falling down as she stepped onto the road and a young boy walking with his mother seeing her in the distance.  Being a well mannered and concerned young boy, he turns to his mother and says, “I think we should help her, but she may be wary of me running alone.  Could you come with me?”  As the boy walks towards the old lady hand in hand with his mother, the old lady accepts his help and thanks him.

Same intent, but a greater perspective.  By thinking about what the old lady may see, the young boy was able to achieve his desire to help her without his actions being misinterpreted.

Originally published at Complex, Made Simple

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