Some perspectives are really heavy. The more we attach to them, the more they weigh us down and hold us back. They pull us off course, often without us being consciously aware. We are no longer heading in our preferred direction. No longer cultivating our better self. They stop us from being nimble and agile. We miss positive opportunities. We no longer respond in an optimal way during interactions with certain people or in specific situations.
If we learn to recognise these heavy and unhelpful perspectives and become less attached to them we give ourselves more freedom to choose our most helpful attitude and behaviours in any given moment.
We should rule our perspectives and not be ruled by them!
Taking on board that “All perspectives are wrong but some are helpful” (Zoom-Out Principle) then this loosens our grip on any perspective. It makes it easier to let go of or replace a perspective when it is no longer serving us well.
“All perspectives are wrong but some are helpful” – Zoom-Out Principle
Let’s consider a single negative interaction with a person. This can be extrapolated to form an entire perspective about that person. For example:
single negative interaction >>
“They don’t like me!”
“They are selfish and don’t give a damn about me!”
“They are not my type of person, we will never get on!”
“I’ve met their type before, they will try to cheat me!”
The possibilities are almost endless! But as soon as such a perspective takes root, it can become very difficult to shake. Or indeed, it simply becomes the truth and a manifest part of reality and therefore we never event question whether we should shake it off.
This is where the lens of “Helpfulness eclipses accuracy” (Zoom-Out Principle) comes in. If we are constantly alert to perspectives as they form and evaluate in terms of helpfulness then we can catch them early before the roots grow deep. Note that we can do this with ourselves and also spot perspectives that form in others too (or our perspective of them), for example with our teams.
I think this approach echoes what some of the Chinese philosophers described. That life is all about “The Little Things” – those small mundane things that humans do every day.
Consider this extract from the brilliant book: The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh:
“…the truth is that many Chinese philosophers actually saw the world very differently: as consisting of an endless series of fragmented, messy encounters. This worldview emerged from the notion that all aspects of human life are governed by emotions, including the endless human interactions that take place.” – The Path by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh
Seeing reality this way, that life is a messy bundle of encounters (little things), each one becomes an opportunity to reinforce our better selves or cultivate an aspect of ourselves. To do this I would argue, we need to be unencumbered by the heavy baggage of unhelpful perspectives.
“Every person has many different and often contradictory emotional dispositions, desires, and ways of responding to the world. Our emotional dispositions develop by looking outward, not inward. They are not cultivated when you retreat from the world to meditate or go on a vacation. They are formed, in practice, through the things you do in your everyday life: the ways you interact with others and the activities you pursue. In other words, we aren’t just who we are: we can actively make ourselves into better people all the time.” – The Path by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh