Our need for a new perspective is sometimes obvious. We find ourselves stuck, frustrated…feeling ourselves struggling to move forward. Sometimes we’re pretty oblivious to the need. We are enjoying a sense of momentum and reveling in what feels like real progress. We just aren’t aware that we are actually heading down the wrong path or losing the support of others along the way. As leaders, we simply can’t afford this.
Obvious or oblivious… there is (almost) always something to gain from engaging people who can offer us a fresh perspective. As leaders, it’s sometimes a struggle to find people who are not afraid to challenge our thinking. Feeling ready to soak up some fresh perspective? Make sure to choose your thought partner wisely. Look for someone who…
- you know looks at things differently than you do;
- can look at things with a fresh set of eyes;
- has different experiences, beliefs, values, priorities or logic;
- can help you with your blind spots. We all have them;
- you believe can enlighten you;
- you know is not afraid to challenge you;
- will encourage you to push through challenges.
My mind is open, by defenses are down, my curiosity is strong. But that’s certainly not always the case for me…and I doubt that it is for you.
Sometimes I truly enjoy soaking up a fresh perspective. I feel hungry for creative thinking and ideas that will really challenge me. My mind is open, my defenses are down, my curiosity is strong. But that’s certainly not always the case for me…and I doubt that it is for you. There are times when I struggle to be open. I find myself getting defensive instead of staying curious. I feel myself begin to shut down…to stop listening, or worse, to stop caring about what is being shared. There is just nothing good about this scenario. Feel yourself heading down this path? Time to hit your “reset button.”
- Pull the plug on your defensive energy;
- Tap into your curiosity;
- Embrace being challenged…even if it’s feedback you’re not enjoying in the moment;
- Remember that you don’t have to agree… you just have to listen and absorb;
Really struggling? You may need to ask your thought partner to give you a minute to digest what they’ve shared. Use this time to reset your thinking and to remind yourself how important it is for people to feel safe in sharing their point of view with you. As leaders, we sometimes shut people down without even realizing it. Remember, someone who feels shut down now may later withhold valuable feedback and perspectives just when you need them most. I said, “there is (almost) always something to gain from a new perspective…” Yes, I do believe there are exceptions.
Here are situations to avoid:
- You just aren’t ready to take it in. In this situation, it’s better to let your thought partner know that now is not a good time…and invite them to hold onto their ideas for a better time.
- You really only want to hear from people who agree with you. If that’s where you are at the moment, then you’re not only wasting your time…you’re wasting the time of others. You are also robbing yourself of a huge opportunity to grow.
- You are talking with someone who is always right. There are some people who feel that they have all the answers…and who have a deep-seated need to convince others to agree with them? This type really isn’t a great thought partner. I either try to avoid these conversations or to quickly end them with a polite, “thank you for sharing.”
Sometimes we just need to take a break. Don’t be afraid to set something aside for a few minutes, a few hours or even a few days, if necessary, to allow yourself to gain a fresh perspective. Not sure where to turn? Here are some ideas:
- Enjoy a TED Talk – one that takes you far from what you’re struggling with;
- Tackle a new challenge – you can always come back to this one;
- Call a friend – just to catch up, not to discuss the issue;
- Read something – a blog, magazine…anything to break the cycle;
Of course, sometimes what we need is to get back to work. It’s about that time for me.
Hope you enjoy the view!