Tag: seeing out of the box

1/10/11 “Perspective”

Good day, team.

This week’s challenge is about changing our perspective.

One morning as my husband waited for the coffee to brew, he stared at the reflection of a painting in the mirror across the room. He noticed that if he moved toward the mirror, the painting would appear smaller, and if he moved away, it would appear larger. He was puzzled for a moment. Normally, he thought, as you move closer to something, it appears larger not smaller. For example, hold your hand in front of your face about an inch away. It seems quite large. Then move your hand away from your face, and it becomes smaller.

After my husband delivered my coffee to me (a Sunday morning ritual I am most grateful for), we discussed this phenomenon for a while. We surmised that the reason for this change in perspective was because we were seeing the painting as a reflection rather than looking right at it. Perhaps the image did just the opposite of what it normally would do. Anyone reading this who knows a lot more about reflection and visual perspective is welcome to write to me as I’m sure there is an exact reason why this happened. In any case, our conversation made me think about changing how we see things.

When we’re in the middle of something, it can be difficult for us to see with any relativity or context. For example, when I’m tallying up my monthly business accounts for my bookkeeper, it’s difficult to see how the columns of numbers relate to how my business is doing. I have to see the results of the numbers on a balance sheet to give me a better look at the month. Then I can look at the profit and loss statement to see how I’m actually doing for the quarter or the year. Having context and relativity enable me to compare and contrast with clarity. They widen my viewfinder and give me more information.

I find this is true in my relationships with others as well. If I focus too much on one aspect of someone, I lose my ability to see the whole person. For example, when one of my friends talks with me about her ex-husband, she can be quite negative. She expresses hurt feelings and resentment about him and the life they had together. This is not an experience that I enjoy having with her. At the same time, I greatly appreciate many things about her. She loves music and has shared many kinds with me that I otherwise never would have heard. She’s a hard worker, and I respect how she perseveres. She’s a wonderful mother and loyal friend. And yet, when I think of her, I tend to think of how negative she is about her ex-husband. Consequently, by focusing exclusively on one aspect of her personality, I tend to think of her only in that vein. However, if I stand back and look at the whole picture of her, I see that she’s many things. She’s not just one color of the rainbow but is composed of all the colors of the rainbow — the dark as well as the light.

In the book “Leadership and Self-Deception,” published by the Arbinger Institute, the authors talk about how it’s the seers who end up putting themselves in a box by not being able to see others in their entirety. Changing how we see others by standing back and taking in the entire impression, not only frees them from how we otherwise confine them, but more important, it frees us from the box of limited vision that imprisons us.

I recall standing in the Musee d’Orsay in France a few years ago gazing lovingly at some beautiful Monet paintings. If I stood too close, it was just a jumble of colorful brush strokes. Once I stood back, those same brush strokes created beautiful scenes of the French countryside. Aha, I thought, impressionism!

This week, try changing how you see others. Broaden your perspective by opening up the viewfinder. Give yourself the opportunity to see someone from many angles, not just the one that bothers you or the one that stands out the most. Step back to take in the whole impression and marvel at its beauty.

Have a good week,


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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