Sometimes I get going so fast in my life that I lose perspective. It is like I’m trying to read a piece of paper held up right at the end of my nose. I’m doing all of the things, but I’ve lost the connection between what I am doing and why I am doing it.
I have learned to recognize three primary patterns when perspective has slipped in me and in my clients: magnification, tunnel vision, and personalizing.
- Magnification is when everything seems like a bigger deal than it actually is. Coffee spills, red lights, and inconvenient errands become monumental hassles.
- Tunnel vision is focusing on minute, inconsequential details – rather than facing the big stuff.
- Personalization is making it all about you, i.e., “I should have known,” “I am making a mess of this,” “If only I had __(fill in the regret)__.”
Perspective can slip for a variety of reasons. The quickest slides are usually due to lack of sleep, jet lag, illness, physical injury, fear of failing, and loss. These events deplete the body’s reserves so that, once the physical and emotional systems are depleted, the psychological system suffers. When your perspective is out of alignment, you will have trouble resting, lack confidence in your decision-making, and ultimately (if you don’t re-align yourself) make judgment errors. The crazy thing is that, instead of realizing that you are out of alignment, you tend to look outside of yourself for what to blame and where the fix is. But the answers are always inside.
I have found that the fastest fixes for perspective alignment are actually quite simple:
- First Fix: Reintegrate. Disconnect from your devices (yes, all of them) and get outside into awe-inspiring space. Get into big open space, move your body, and be intentional about your breathing (make your exhales longer than your inhales to calm the nervous system). Allow the emotion of awe to enter your awareness. Awe slows down the perception of time, and being in an open physical environment re-integrates mind intelligence with body intelligence.
- Second Fix: Bolster Your Courage with Others. If you are leading, you are scare-cited on a daily basis. Pursuing a stretch goal with someone else emboldens you and strengthens the commitment to follow through. Identify the “brass rings” you are after, then ask yourself how you engage others in some shape or form. Even better if you’re supporting each other in staying accountable to your future best selves!
While a walk in the outdoors does not solve my challenges any more than having an accountability buddy wins the race for me, what each fix does do is re-establish my ability to manage my life and leadership with wisdom, humor, and resilience.
Listen for evidence of a loss of perspective in your 1-on-1’s. Rather than correcting the thinking errors, go for the root cause: ask your employee how they are doing with balance, encourage them to take time to refill their resilience reservoir, and then circle back for a follow-up conversation.
Call your values to mind and consider how they govern the way that you lead. How generous are you in applying those values to yourself? What do you want to do with this new awareness?