Scrolling my Twitter feed, I stumbled upon Daniel Pink’s , an American author of bestselling books about business, work, and behavior, 2016 convocation address at Georgetown University on the importance of perspective-taking.
He asked the grads to do a quick social experiment with three simple instructions. Try it!
1) Identify your dominant hand.
2) With your dominant hand, snap your fingers 5 times.
3) With the forefinger of your dominant hand, draw for me a capital “E” on your forehead.
Take note, did you draw your “E” facing you inwardly or “E” facing outwardly? Pink: “If you drew the “E” facing you i.e. inwardly, it means you are self-oriented and take your own perspective. If you drew “E” facing outwardly , it means you take someone else’s perspective.”
As time goes on, you will draw the “E” differently, depending on context. As you grow and acquire power and success, you might lose your ability to see the world through another’s eyes. “Use your power but sharpen your perspective.” –Daniel H. Pink
Saul Bellow, a Canadian author and Nobel and Pulitzer prize winner quoted Proust as he talked about life’s “true impressions.” “With increasing frequency, I dismiss as merely respectable opinions I have long held – or thought I held – and try to discern what I have really lived by and what others live by.” –Saul Bellow
Thirty years ago I was “gifted” this rare perspective. I haven’t used it very often…not until this month. This “gift” came from being hospitalized for an extended period with no vision and no mobility. So when I peered into my best friend’s (30 years) one open eye last week, I suddenly realized that in order to connect with her, I had to take her perspective. I had to communicate in such a way so that if she was inside there, she could use her facial muscles to answer. Being careful not to overtire her, we “conversed” as she responded neurologically well – acknowledging accurately and quickly. She’s smart, strong, and resilient. We pray.
“Valuing the differences between people is the essence of synergy … And the key is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”–Stephen R. Covey
Did you draw the Capital E facing inwardly or facing outwardly? Know your power of perspective and use it aptly, wisely, and compassionately.