“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
― Abraham Lincoln
After sitting in a meeting recently, I came away with one word. PERSPECTIVE. It’s amazing what you see and hear when you actively watch, listen, and collect information. It’s beautiful! Let me start with some reasons for ‘why’ we have meetings. The simple answer is that they serve as a forum to bring diverse groups together to share knowledge, problem solve, make decisions, foster relationships, and build a culture of learning in order to move systems forward. PERSPECTIVE is the ‘what’ we get that makes meetings valuable and productive. When we set our norms for ‘how’ we will meet, what we are doing is ensuring that we create a safe environment where we can all come to the table ready to share our PERSPECTIVES and learn. It struck me today that ‘perspective’ is the step necessary before ‘vision’. There is also a difference between having a perspective and having an opinion. In my mind, perspective informs an opinion. LEADERS at all levels are charged with inspiring a shared vision and in order to do this we need to understand what informs our perspective and others.
PERSPECTIVE – “the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship” dictionary.com
If one component of leadership is inspiring a shared vision then another is the ability to infuse PERSPECTIVE into every situation. Here are a few reasons I can think of why perspective leads to a shared vision…
PERSPECTIVE causes others to look at a situation through another lens previously not considered and critique or judge its validity. According to Bloom’s taxonomy, this level of cognitive thinking would fall under ‘evaluating’ and leads to ‘creating’ which is when our meetings become productive. LEADERS intentionally design situations where different perspectives can be heard. Twitter, EdCamps, gallery walks, learning rounds, mini conferences, PLCs…the list goes on. Opening the windows to let some fresh air in.
PERSPECTIVE is the value we all carry within us. We need to remember that we are all shaped by our experiences, knowledge, and culture. We need to honor that when a person speaks we listen past their opinion and understand the perspective that informs it. LEADERS that place value on others perspectives start to tap into a deep collective resource that is needed to formulate a shared vision. We start to identify our collective moral purpose.
PERSPECTIVE informs change. Change can not occur in isolation or be informed by one perspective. We know this type of change is not systemic or systematic. If we change perspectives, we can change opinions. LEADERS that are change agents understand how peoples perspectives inform the process of change and how to leverage those perspectives to activate change.
Because we all have a PERSPECTIVE, we all have an obligation to share it, to inform, to teach, to show evidence of it to others. LEADERS are privileged with a unique perspective because they observe the whole system. A leader’s perspective needs to be shared and communicated so all are empowered by their perspective. I liken it to the critical communication between a seeing eye dog and their blind master. “I entrust my life to my seeing eye dog. He has never failed me. Neither has the seeing eye.” (seeingeye.org)
One final reflection…sharing your perspective is also an opportunity to celebrate, uplift, inject humor, lighten the spirit, build trust and relationships. Nothing is ever as dire as we perceive it to be…thanks to others experiences, knowledge, and culture.
“It may mean everything or it may mean nothing. You’ll never know until you decide to look at it from a different perspective.”