A 3-Step Process for Gaining Perspective

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?

Provoked to Higher Education

As a young man I remember waking up early on the weekends and summer break to work in the peach fields in the futile crescent of Northern California for my father, who happened to be the field boss for a local fruit packing company. I despised this early morning routine and remember saying to myself, “I never do these kinds of jobs when I grow up!” My parents who would often say to my siblings and I, “If you don’t get your education, you will be doing these jobs all your life” reinforced my exact sentiments. Sure enough, it didn’t take much to motivate me to attend school; numb hands in the winter months and a parched mouth in the summer heat were enough to motivate me to attend college. At least I did not have to wake up to, “Muchachos, es hora – levantensen! Vamonos a trabajar!” (Young men, it’s time – get up! Let’s go to work!). At first, those words bothered me as a young Latino male, but today they inspire me.

College did not come easy for me but I persevered through writing labs and papers, preparing speeches and speaking in front of large classes, and learning to say “no” to my friends in the moment so I could say “hello” to my future. Today, my four brothers, sister and I possess Bachelor’s degrees, while some of us have earned Master’s degrees. I owe a debt of gratitude to my father and mother; the visionary immigrants from Mexico. From this experience, I have some advice to impart to young Latinos – wisdom calls out from many places, are you listening? Don’t stall your education for a few moments of pleasure. Life is too short, then you wake up one day with regret on your mind – “Man, I should’ve gone to college!”

I acquired my Bachelor’s degree 7 years out from graduating from High School. And in May of 2009, I received my Master’s degree from Regent University in Organizational Leadership, with an emphasis in mentoring and coaching. And, as soon as I pay off my student loans, my dream is to attend Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California for my Doctorate.

What’s your story? Are you part of the 12% of Latinos who possess a four year degree?