Are you open to perspectives of others? How tightly do you cling, defend, and hold onto only the way you see things? When provided an opposing point of view, is your initial inclination or response to argue for or protect your position? Do you sincerely attempt to see the world through the eyes of the other person?
If you only see the world through your own lens, you are setting yourself up to fail. No two people see the world exactly the same. No one person can see all there is to see. Effective people understand and accept that other folks may see things that they do not. They realize this helps them make better decisions.
“Agree to disagree.” We have all heard that statement at some point. When that quip is dissected, it is revealed to be a selfish and useless statement. In essence, “agree to disagree” suggests that you disagree with them. It says that you believe they are wrong, you disagree with their perspective, and that you are right. How do you like to be told you are wrong? What if instead you are both right and you both accept that truth?
People attempting to convince others to see things their way waste a lot of time and energy. You can save yourself from a lot of lost energy, as well as frustration, stress, and potential grief when you embrace the notion that everyone sees the world differently. When you do so, you’ll accelerate your personal growth and your ability to learn.
Dudley Field Malone, an attorney, politician, activist, and actor simplified the crux of this with the following:
“I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.”
Actively seeking and being open to others’ perspectives pays dividends. Mark Twain, with his wit and humor, captured this perfectly when he said:
“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
When it comes to recognizing realities, Willie Degal, an admired New York City restaurateur, puts it this way,
“You cannot fix the problem if you do not see the problem.”
Gail, a middle manager of a Pac-North Building Supplies, understood and embraced this concept fully.
Gail pulled me aside during a break in a workshop. She shared with me that while attending a recent company leadership event she forced herself to apply what she recently learned and approach as many of her colleagues as possible to seek perspectives on what can be done to improve operations. This was not something she customarily had done in the past.
One junior-level supervisor shared information about a minor glitch in their warehousing operations. This glitch was quickly addressed with a minor investment. However, if it had not been brought to light, it could have ended up being a multimillion-dollar quagmire.
How often do you, your supervisors, managers, and leaders proactively seek perspectives from a diverse cross-section of employees? How often do you seek insights from those closest to your customers? That is where the work is being done. That is where the best ideas usually reside.
The drawing of the woman that was developed by Harvard Business School and appears in Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People drives this point home for many. Many people who view the drawing see a young girl. Many others see an old woman. With that mind, go back to the statement, “Agree to disagree.”
You may be willing to politely “agree to disagree,” but in doing so you are missing out on all of what is there by dismissing and not working to see the world through the other person’s eyes. If I choose to cling only to what I see and not accept and attempt to see what you see, I am not seeing all there is to see. In the example of the drawing described above, I would end up missing out on 50 percent of reality. What opportunities, possibilities, snags, and glitches are you potentially missing by not earnestly working to see the world through the lens of others?
How important is it as a leader, manager, or supervisor to see the entire reality that exists for your team or organization? How much effort and energy are you putting forth to see that entire reality?
Being open to others’ perspectives allows us to see and recognize more than we can see or recognize on our own. When we are open to others, we are able to be aware and recognize more snags barriers, obstacles, hurdles, opportunities, and possibilities. Doing so allows us to recognize a larger reality, thereby allowing us to make better decisions. If you only see what you alone see, you are not seeing all there is to see.
When we accept this, we no longer fall into the trap of trying to convince others they must agree with everything we believe. We are all different, and when we accept this fundamental truth, it helps us achieve more.
Mike Evans, author of Achieve With Accountability, has developed a unique perspective from 20+ years of working alongside a star studded list of world-renowned thought leaders, including: Dr. John Kotter, Dr. Stephen Covey, Tom Peters, Jim Kouzes, Hyrum Smith, Steve Farber and Chris McChesney. Mike served in senior leadership roles with Kotter International, FranklinCovey, and Tom Peters Company. You can connect with Mike @ QuestMarkCompany. You can purchase Achieve With Accountability by clicking “HERE”
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