I don’t wear eye glasses, at least not yet. Even though I don’t wear them, I still understand how glasses affect your sight. I will occasionally put some on, just to see how strange it looks through them. In my case, what I see is all distorted and blurry, but if you talk to people about when they first begin to wear glasses they smile and talk about how clear things became for them once they put on those glasses.
Our eye sight changes gradually and our eyes are able to compensate for some time. We begin to accept things being blurry in the distance; thinking that is the natural way for things that are far away. We begin to accept those changes as natural and ok. Suddenly, something happens and we come to a realization we can’t see and that maybe we need glasses! After this epiphany, the glasses give us a brand new view instantly – providing us with a new and clearer picture of the world around us.
Our mental perspective is much like our eyesight. Without new glasses to help us see the world in new ways, we can gradually lose our focus, take things for granted or just assume we know how things are, even if they are blurry.
We don’t always think about it, but we always benefit from a fresh perspective. A fresh perspective can get us out of our comfort zone, kick start our thinking, put us on the road to improvement, and help us find better solutions to problems.
Here are five ways you (or your group or team) can gain the benefits of a new perspective without going to the optometrist.
1. Examine your assumptions. Assumptions get in our way all the time. A large part of the humor on television comes from assumptions that one party makes that are erogenous. Because we can “see” the assumptions, it makes us laugh. Strive to reduce the role assumptions play in your life. When looking at a new problem or challenge, make a list of all of the assumptions in the system; yours, the team’s, the organization’s, the industry’s, the Customer’s, whoever! Once we understand the assumptions we will understand other peoples’ behavior better and have a new perspective on the situation (and quite possibly find a great solution).
2. Read new things. If we only read the same things in the same magazines and newspapers we risk blurring our vision. Go to your bookstore, newsstand or library and pick up three magazines you have never heard of, or borrow the magazines of your neighbor’s 14 year old. Then read them cover to cover. Read them with curiosity, and keep your latest projects and challenges in mind as you read. Ask yourself as you read how you can apply these fresh perspectives to your situation and interests.
3. Visit new places and do new things. If you want a new perspective, go someplace different! A new restaurant, a new vacation spot, a different parking lot. Take the stairs up those five flights. Go ice fishing or inner-tubing behind a ski boat. New ideas will spawn from the new places and experiences.
4. Seek out differing opinions. Before finalizing your decisions, ask for divergent views. Ask a grandmother, someone in accounting, or your neighbor. Ask an eight year old or your best friend’s spouse. Ask them, expect to learn something and really listen. Asking for these opinions will give you new viewpoints, leading you to think, “Hmmm.. I never thought about it that way” which is the goal of trying on all of these mental glasses anyway.
5. Look at this site. One of my favorite ways to get people to think of old things in new ways is to show them a Peters Projection World Map. We have all grown up looking at the world through the lenses of the Mercator map. We know what the world, countries, and continents look like from this view. The Mercator map was developed for navigators, and so the straight lines match up with a compass. The problem is that this view distorts the relative size of things – because the world isn’t flat! With a spherical world and flat maps we depict both accurate size and shape on one map. I could talk more about this, but to help you “see” this new perspective, go to http://petersmap.com and read and see for yourself. It will be time well spent. (I dare you not to want to share this with someone else within five minutes of learning more about this map).
Even if your eyes are good you should have them checked every couple of years. Don’t wait nearly that long between uses of these glasses! Each of these approaches offers you a new view each time you use them, so use them often.