Nick and I were recently working in a regional city in NSW for a few days after working there briefly in February. The first time we were there we stayed in a part of town that seemed run down and quiet with little going for it and not much available in terms of shops, cafes, restaurants etc. We did go exploring, walking a fair distance and found some livelier areas with more on offer and discovered the waterfront development which was busier and found that our perspective of the city changed.
This visit was different; we were there for longer, stayed in a hotel with ocean views, close to one of the many beaches and watched all of the activities morning and evening. Early surfers, swimmers, walkers, runners and cyclists and late evening strolls, conversations and dog walking. The local area was rich with historic buildings, parks, small businesses, funky cafes, popular eclectic and cosmopolitan restaurants, a pedestrian precinct with a variety of shopping and a vibrant and energised feel. Altogether different from our first visit.
Was it the same place? Yes. Did it feel like the same place? No. So what changed? Our perspective for one thing and therefore our experience.
When we go into any situation, or place, we tend to go in with one perspective … our own, viewed from our unique experience and view of the world as we know it up to that point and, depending on our nature, may stay with that one perspective believing it to be true and can become stuck in our views and opinions. If, however, we choose to explore our curiosity we may decide to shift our perspective, move to a different position or location and look again and doing that gives us a different view and opportunity to form a different impression or opinion about the situation, the person or the place and shape our future experience.
And that’s what happened in this great cosmopolitan place. We were given the opportunity to see the city from a different perspective which changed our opinion and gave us a new and more enjoyable experience.
It’s easy to get locked into a certain way of seeing things. We all see and experience the world differently believing our perspective to be the right one – and that’s fine – but that can create blind spots, intolerance and conflict.
There are many exercises and examples that we use in our workshops that encourage people to look at things – themselves, situations and life in general – differently and it’s always interesting and insightful to get the various interpretations of an image, words or noise and listening to the conversations and justification for individual perspectives and ‘points of view’.
While not everybody ends up agreeing it does allow people to see and hear other people’s perspective and view of the world and recognise that there are always different ways look at life in general if we are open to looking at things differently from time to time and challenge our viewpoint. What’s your view?