Jim Aitkins is an American writer who is still learning all about life. He finds that learning goes great with a small dose of humour, and we tend to agree. This month, he looks at life’s perception via a television installation.
Tim mounted his flat screen television on the wall. He then sat down and watched a movie. It worked just fine.
Then Don came over. The moment Don walked into the room and looked at the television, he said to Tim, “Oh, that won’t work.”
Since Tim had already watched the setup operating perfectly, he had no idea what Don was talking about – until Don sat down on the sofa and smiled at Tim. At that point, Tim knew immediately what the problem would be.
“You see”, said Don, “the couch is positioned at a somewhat ‘L’ angle, perpendicular from the television. So, one person on the sofa can watch the television positioned where it is on the wall without any problem. However, if a second person joins the first person on the couch and they both want to see the screen, there will be a problem.”
Tim had placed the television in that place on the wall with one perspective in mind: his position from his recliner. An eye-level placement made perfect sense – to Tim.
Of course Tim’s perspective made sense to Tim – until he gained the perspective of someone who has never seen his television from the angle that he has always viewed the screen, and who has only viewed the TV from an angle different from the one familiar to him. This elevated Tim’s view of the situation and made him realize he needed to elevate the screen, which he did.
The analogy here is obvious. By not broadening our perspective, we limit ourselves. Unless something or someone introduces something outside of our perspective – some new information, or a dramatically different point of view – it is all too easy for us to assume that ours is the right (or even the only) perspective. This is why elevation is always required.
But do you really need to experience such a powerful visual queue in order to adjust your thinking to become more inclusive of other peoples’ points of view and perspectives? Let this serve as a reminder to make it a habit to put yourself, and keep yourself, in a state of curiosity.
Think about how others might see things differently. Wonder what you might have in common with people who see things differently to you in politics, in religion, in lifestyle choices, etc.
One individual’s own perspective tends to be limited to their personal knowledge and life experiences. This is, indeed, a huge limitation because almost all of us work with and/or live with others. When that limitation is coupled with a delusion of infallibility (the idea that my outlook on things is the only outlook to have), it represents an impassable obstacle to personal growth.
Instead of assuming everyone sees things the way you do, make it a habit to ask quality questions that elevate your thinking above and beyond your perspective. It is always better to assume that everyone sees things differently than you and that they have a good reason to do so than to assume everyone agrees with you because there is no reason why they wouldn’t.
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