Let’s face it: you can’t control the world, no matter how badly you want to. You often can’t even control your circumstances. But you can control your perspective. Well, in theory. Unfortunately, far too many of us fall into insanity doing the same thing from the same perspective over and over again expecting different results, no matter how much we know nothing will change. Why? Because we see what we see. In psychology there’s a term for it: Availability Heuristics. They’re mental shortcuts that help us make decisions and process information quickly and easily. Most of the time these Availability Heuristics are awesome; they allow us to think on our feet, access risk, and filter choices. But sometimes, many times, they can also create ruts, cause us to see what we’ve always seen without questioning, challenging, or re-verifying that the conclusion is still accurate and in our best interest. So then what?! If it’s time to shift to a new perspective that achieves a better result because the old, dead-end views are causing more problems than they’re worth, try this:
Use your house as a Perspectives-Incubator.
First, name your issue. Let’s say you think your boss is getting in the way of your career growth. Clearly the dominant perspective is that your boss is an impediment, or at the very least, not on your side, yes? In fact, I bet you have plenty of evidence to support it. But that’s just one perspective, so let’s find a new one. To do so, quite literally, move to a different room in the house and ask, what would the perspective be from this room?
Kitchen: Kitchens are gathering places. Name me a party that doesn’t end up in the kitchen. Why? Because that’s where the food and drinks are. Kitchens are bright, lively and quite literally life-sustaining. What if your perspective about your boss was seen through the perspective of the kitchen? You might see a boss that, like food, needs preparation.Therefore, I need to engage with with my boss like I would the ingredients of an hors d’oeuvres. You know: slice, dice, chop, grind then throw him in the oven at 350 for 30 mins. JUST KIDDING!!! But you might need to break things down. Maybe he doesn’t really know or understand your goals, or can’t separate what you do from what you want to do, or can’t imagine not having you in your current position… how might you prepare him for a different outcome? Or, if the food part of the kitchen doesn’t work for you, perhaps you could engage with her like you would at a party. Maybe your engagement with her is too serious and needs to lighten up. Perhaps you’re intimidating, and you need more casual talk, laughter, sharing of food, and storytelling to connect and let her see you in a different light.
Bedroom: OK, the thought of your bedroom is a weird analogy for your boss, but stick with me. Bedrooms are places of calm, rest, rejuvenation and, if you’re involved with a significant other, a place of connection. Perhaps this perspective tells you that your relationship with your boss needs more calm, more connection (professional connection, of course), maybe things are too chaotic at work and you need to pull him aside to a calmer environment, like coffee, lunch or dinner to separate from the chaos and have a deeper, more meaningful conversation.
Backyard: Backyards are open, exposed and beautiful; filled with fresh air, and, depending on the weather, rain, sun, snow… or, if you have a dog, possibly even doggy bombs. Get my drift? Backyards are unpredictable, and at the same time freeing. Perhaps your boss is the same way. Maybe every step you take with your boss you feel like you’re about to step in doo. If so, how do you clean that up? Is there baggage in your relationship that needs to be addressed? Or, perhaps this perspective is showing you how to take a deep breath, to separate completely, or to simply look up into the warm sun and expand your horizons. Who knows? Maybe your boss’s impediment is the universe telling you you don’t want what you think you want, and it’s time for a new vision for your career.
This isn’t science, it’s suggestion; it’s attempting to force your brain into thinking and seeing new ways, to spark new feelings, so you can be at a choice point. Arthur Schopenhauer said, “Ours is not to see what no one has yet seen, but to think what no one has yet thought about that which everyone sees.” That’s the objective here: to think differently about that which you have seen the same way day in and day out for far too long.
When you’ve walked all around the metaphorical house, sit back, evaluate your new found perspectives and pick the one that serves you best — NOT the one that aligns with your current perspective or reinforces a current paradigm, but the one that pushes you outside of it. Then give it time to work. The bottom line is simply this: approach your boss from a different perspective and you are likely to get a different response. In the end, isn’t that the goal?