Good Day, Friends!
How many times in your life have you used the glass half-full or half-empty metaphor? We use this metaphor to describe someone’s perspective on life as either pessimistic or optimistic. I find the idea of perspective and perception fascinating. What makes one person look at the glass and say half-full and another say half-empty? How does their response shape their world view, or how does their world view shape their answer? Take a moment to think about how you would respond. And why?
The famous American comedian George Carlin once said, “Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”
We all perceive the same information. We see the same glass, and we know the volume of water in it. We can take all kinds of scientific measurements. We could mark the glass and use a tape measure to calculate the glass’s halfway point. But at the end of the day, some will say half-full, yet others would say half-empty. It’s all a matter of perspective! Or is it?
The difference between perception and perspective is considered semantics, but there is a significant difference between the two words. Our perception is our ability to interpret what we see, hear, feel, and experience. It is the meaning we assign to any given stimulus.
Whereas our perspective is the way we see something, our point of view and determines how we view ourselves, others, and everything around us. Our perspective gives form to our perceptions.
What I have realized in life is that my beliefs shape the way I perceive the world. My beliefs are forged through my personal experience; some are created by repetition and habits while others are influenced by experiences that carry a profound, dramatic emotional impact. So, our beliefs shape our perception and how we understand the meaning in what we perceive.
Many people think that our perspective (point of view) determines our perception (what things mean). But, in reality, it is the perception of our existence that controls our perspective. So, changing our perception or perspective is complicated. It starts with understanding our profound belief system.
Suppose we believe that every day, we grow as leaders. We get a little bit better, wiser, and authentic. And we understand that failure is an inherent part of our leadership journey, then are we willing to assume more risks? We drive to gain more knowledge and understanding. We become an Intentional Leader focused on opportunity and possibilities.
However, if we believe that we have everything we need to succeed as a leader, our world becomes limited. We lead from a place where everything is a challenge or a problem. We are stuck in the whirlwind of trying to fight the good fight while trying to move forward, and we lead with a lack of intentionality.
Glass half-full or half-empty? That is a great question, but what if, like George Carlin, we look beyond the either-or question? What if we answer with something other than half-full or half-empty?
How do you engage the world? How many times have you reacted or responded with righteous indignation only to find out that you overreacted? In this video, Stephen R. Covey explains the significance of paradigms and affect how we behave and our outcomes.
Before watching this video take a second to ponder this Covey quote, “We think we see the world as it is, when in fact we see the world as we are.”
Changing Your Leadership Perspective
As many of your know, I love hiking and climbing mountains. Sometimes during a long hike, you see a summit on the near horizon. You climb and climb until you finally reach the top to realize that it was a false summit, and the actual mountain summit is still miles away. Like life, your perspective changes with every step.
An Intentional Leader can develop one of the most critical skills to suspend your current reality and step outside and look from another perspective. Check out this interesting blog on “Perspective and Leadership” by Mark Bragg.
The Results Are In
There is an increasing perception gap between employees and employers. One example highlighted in Businessolver’s 2020 State of Workplace Empathy Study is the empathy gap.
“Only 48% of employees believe companies as a whole are empathetic, versus 68% of CEOs.”
How can there be a 20-point gap between what our employees experience and how the top-level executive views empathy in the workplace? Our employees are looking for more understanding and flexibility.
As Intentional Leaders, we must emphasize tuning in to different employees’ unique needs and perspectives while leading by example. The big question is, “are you ready to become a more effective empathetic leader?”
What Color Is Your World?
During my sophomore year in high school, I read a passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance.” The line was, “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” This profound quote and essay ignited my leadership journey.
Here is another of my favorite Emerson’s quotes that propel me to look at the world through many lenses constantly. I hope that this quotes sparkes or re-energizes your journey.
“Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is like a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue. . . .” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson