Bad is never good until worse happens. ~ Danish proverb
I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective lately, and I have come to believe that it is one of the most valuable of gifts. It is a gradual awakening, brought on by comparing each of our experiences, beliefs, attitudes, views and opinions, one against the other. It cannot be done with a closed mind. One must be willing to analyse, to dig deep and think: how is this different from that? And in what ways are these things similar or different in terms of my experience? Are things better or worse? Richer or poorer? More or less unbearable? Tolerable or not?
Perspective cannot happen without experiences with which to compare For example, when I started running in 2010, I could hardly run 50 metres without gasping for breath. A few weeks ago, I ran my third official half marathon: 21.1 km. Next year, I plan on running my first ultra-marathon, which will be around 56 km. From my 21.1 km vantage point, 1 km seems like nothing. Yet, when I first started running, being able to run 1 km without stopping was a dream; I didn’t think I would ever be able to do it, and here am I considering an ultra! I never cease to be amazed that I, at almost 52, am running those sorts of distances.
Photography is something I took up almost at the same time as my running, and it has become quite the hobby for me. I originally decided to learn more about it because of my penchant for travel. On my first trip, I took a little point and click camera, and any photos that were any good were a matter of luck. A fluke. So, before I took the next trip, I bought a new camera (still a point and click, but with more megapixels) and took a short photography course which taught me about the language of photography. And my photos indeed improved. In preparation for my next trip, I bought a fabulous DSLR, a number of lenses and filters, installed Adobe Lightroom and a took a few subjects at the Centre for Creative Photography. I know what I’m doing now; at least, more than I did before. And I will keep working on my craft. I’m super proud of the photos I take; you can see them here on my photography blog (note to self: must do an update and load up my India photos).
And work. Sigh. My Achilles heel, as it were. Over the last few years, I’ve landed in jobs I haven’t enjoyed over the long term. Sure they start out well enough, but then (mostly) poor management or restructures or mergers take their toll and leave me jaded and cynical and uncaring. But each new job and each new manager gives me greater perspective on the previous one: with the benefit of experience and hindsight, jobs and managers I thought were bad turn out not to be quite so awful. Perspective encourages me feel more tolerant of, and (even!) more compassionate towards, many of my old managers (not all of them, mind you—some are just really bad people who should be allowed near other people).
I’ve found that sometimes, just sometimes, perspective can change your mind about someone you’d previously categorised as difficult or frustrating or annoying to deal with. They are a walk in the park compared with the unpleasant types that are crossing your path now! And I’m not just talking about work here. And who knows? These current, unpleasant types might be angels compared to the next kind of person or situation you have to deal with. It’s all about perspective.
Experiences are important because they teach us something about ourselves and the world we in which we have to operate. But of course, that’s only if we are open to learning. It’s much easier to stumble around, thinking we are right all the time. I remember reading a couple of quotes (but I can’t remember who said them, so am unable to attribute). One goes something like this: some people pretend to think, but all they doing is rearranging their prejudices. And: if you get to a certain age and you haven’t changed your mind, all you’ve done is wasted a lot of your time.
I’m glad, that with the gift of perspective, I can change my mind.
Life’s too short to do otherwise.
Did this post resonate with you?
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