I was driving down a gravel road in the Iowa countryside. Emily was in the passenger seat, and Kayla, who was probably only two at the time, was in her car seat in the back.
We had just finished a gathering with friends, and we were heading home. It was dusk, and there really wasn’t much around us expect acres and acres of rolling farmland.
What started as a pleasant trip through the countryside suddenly turned into quite an adventure. An animal jumped from the driver’s side of our car, hit the windshield and then landed on the opposite side of the road. The windshield completely shattered on impact, but fortunately none of us were hurt. The animal that jumped onto our car lay dazed on the shoulder of the road. Then, after a few minutes, it rose to its feet and took off seemingly unfazed by the incident.
Needless to say, Emily and I were shaken up. Little did we realize how Kayla was processing everything that just happened. She was trying to put all the pieces together in her little mind, and with that asked the most obvious question: “Why did that kangaroo jump on our car?”
4 Lessons on Perspective
Now, before you book your next vacation to the “Land Down Under” to see the kangaroos jumping around the Iowa cornfields, you may want to consider a few thoughts when it comes to perspective.
There are times when we are too close to the problem to see what has actually hit us.
We may need to put some time and distance between us and the immediate challenge before we can properly evaluate the problem we’re facing. The fog of war can lead to uncertainty. Our judgment can be clouded. That’s why we periodically need to “retreat” and remove ourselves from the battle in order to gain clarity and plan our next steps.
Our preconceived notions can make it difficult for us to see the truth.
In Kayla’s world, kangaroos were the jumping animals. When an animal jumped on our car, she assumed it was a kangaroo. It’s a form of confirmation bias when we see reality through the lens of our existing expectations. That’s why it’s important to seek outside counsel to help us look at our circumstances from a different perspective.
Our collective wisdom will generate better wisdom.
People will bring unique perspectives. Each has distinct experiences, gifts and personalities to approach challenges and opportunities. It’s another example of how the team outperforms the individual every time. We need each other…especially when we’re trying to overcome challenges and take new ground.
When it comes to perspective, experience counts.
It’s probably overstating the obvious, but the perspective of a two-year-old and that of someone twenty-some years her senior was quite different. This is one instance when older, seasoned leaders have the advantage. Their wisdom is enhanced by years of real-life experience. Like the development of a newborn baby’s vision, time helps us better understand and interact with the world that we see around us.
So how are you doing? Are you so close to the challenges you are facing that you are seeing kangaroos? If so, it might be time to gain a better perspective. Until we have clarity about our present situation, it’s impossible to plan and execute our next steps with success.
And one more thing… If you’re ever driving down a country road in Iowa, enjoy the journey but watch out for kangaroos.