Have you ever tried to gain perspective on something? What process did you employ, and what did it look like when you got there? The term perspective was coined in 1380; it originally meant “the science of optics.” So perspective has to do with your sight or vision. In a nutshell, perspective is the faculty of gathering and assessing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship, then drawing the best conclusion possible to gain clarity, open up options, and make the critical choice to advance your agenda. So it seems, optics/sight has a lot to with acquiring data from a visual standpoint. To gain the right perspective you will need to accurately gather information, analyze and interpret the information clearly. Perspective helps you see where you stand at the moment, and what’s emerging before you so you can see the “big picture.”
I propose a three-point process to help you gather and glean better perspective:
1. Hindsight – The past reveals critical facts and information
The past is an excellent source of information for attaining perspective but it’s only one of the many methods you will need to get there. The grasp of the facts and their proper application to your present circumstances is powerful. Looking into the past is essential to gather bits of information needed for your journey. Therefore, one must learn to accumulate valuable data, and assess its value before making critical decisions. For example, you can look into your own personal history to gain vital data, even surf the Internet data bases, websites, and e-libraries, which will provide you with insights from other people’s experiences. Looking back to gain understanding for the present moment is vital for acquiring perspective but this is only one facet, you will also need foresight as well.
2. Foresight – Discerning what is emerging in your immediate future.
T. Irene Sanders, a sought after “change” expert, strategist and author, notes the key to foresight is learning to recognize your system’s initial conditions as they are emerging, so that you can see change coming, respond early, or influence it to your advantage. Take for instance the running back who is fully engaged in a play. He is visually responding at rapid speeds to the opposing team’s attempt to impede his progress. Within nanoseconds he must assimilate the oncoming stimuli through his visual senses (foresight) to adjust his speed, craft turns and spins to gain a personal and team advantage before he is tackled. Foresight gives you the same advantage when you are making critical decisions about your life, business, etc. The key to foresight is you must be visually alert to emerging stimuli to see what’s in it, interpret it correctly, and determine what it means to you.
3. Insight – Tapping into knowledge to gain understanding, then allowing wisdom to have its say.
Insight is also a word dealing with sight. Insight means, “sight with the eyes of the mind” or what Sanders calls “visual thinking”, which is the ability to create and interact with images in one’s mind. For example, insight is a useful skill when discerning and understanding times of transition. For example, in the Old Testament, the sons of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32) were very insightful people. During the transition of two clashing kingdoms (King Saul’s and David), the tribe of Issachar had to make a critical choice of loyalty. They had to answer these questions: What is happening at the moment and what changes are coming? They tapped into the current facts (knowledge) of their situation by gaining understanding, then allowed corporate wisdom to have its say. Today, they are renowned for their skills to “see” patterns emerging before them during a crucial moment of a power transition. It’s interesting to note that the other 10 or so tribes failed the test to see this transition happening before their very eyes.
Where these points useful? What else can you add to this equation?