Last week I wrote about why your perspective as a leader is so powerful. If you missed it, it is a great prelude to this article. Today I give you practical ways to get more and new perspectives into your experience and thought process.
Note: None of these are difficult in and of themselves, but all may require a change of habit or thinking. All of them will make a real difference in your ability to lead, make decisions, influence others and much more. Because of their power, it will be worth your time and effort to try them.
Shut up and listen. You already have your perspective, which you likely won’t change very much if you keep talking. Listen to what others have to say, how they see the world and the situation. Not only will you learn something and gain a new perspective, you will build your relationship with the other person at the same time.
Ask more questions. This applies to one on one conversation as a way to extend your listening and learning, but it also applies to life in general. When you are curious about the world around you and ask questions to understand things, you are automatically expanding your perspective and horizons at the same time.
Spend time with new people. This could be people from different departments, a new neighbor or anyone. The goal here is to get to know people with different experiences than you, so you can begin to see their perspectives. Bonus points here the further from your comfort zone you move! Once you are spending time with new people, apply the first two points above to those conversations.
Read more and more broadly. Reading provides us new vistas and perspectives. Read new authors, new genres, new magazines, blogs and websites. All reading is helpful, but if you only read in your industry or only read your favorite author, or only otherwise monochromatically, you are hampering your perspective-building opportunities. While most all types of reading material can help – fiction and biographies are especially helpful. Reading is one of the most efficient and powerful ways to broaden your perspective. I know some people read more than others – if you are thinking “I’m not a reader”, remember that since you can read, you can choose to read more or differently.
Watch different stuff. Like reading, what we choose to watch can broaden our perspectives. Always watch sports? Turn on Spike or the Food Channel. Always watch the dramas? Try Biography or the History Channel. Have a favorite news channel? Watch a different one for a week.
Experience your experiences through a new filter. This one is big! Pretty much all of your life experiences can help you gain new perspectives, if you are looking for them. Look for situations you don’t understand or surprise you and be curious. Think about things that happen and things you hear through the filter of your current challenge or problem. Notice things and compare them to the issues you are contemplating. Consistently and consciously thinking about seeing new perspectives will make all the difference.
These six approaches will help you gain new perspectives. Now your challenge is to use those perspectives to make better decisions, be more empathetic, solve Customer issues, and one hundred other things. Perspective changes our world and as we see more of them, our ability to communicate, prioritize, decide and lead improves.
Now you understand the power, and have an action plan.
The rest is up to you.
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photo credit: Douglas Brown