High atop the city of Edmonton in a revolving restaurant, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. It was a lovely evening, in the comfort of the person whose company I have kept more than anyone in my whole life. All while exploring the 360 degree view of the beautifully green and growing city of Edmonton. Poignant?
While it is hardly the 110 stories of the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago, the restaurant on the 24th floor of the Crowne Plaza is certainly high enough to give a fresh, new perspective from which to zoom out. What I observed is the higher I am the smaller things get down below.
Much of what I do as both a coach and facilitator is offer perspective, or create opportunity for renewed perspective. Sometimes that is met with a little resistance.
I recently challenged a group of clients to look at problems as opportunities. "How can I look at my daughter needing brain surgery as an opportunity?" I was asked. The group immediately responded.
It became abundantly clear that equally traumatic events experienced by others in the group had shaped their lives in many positive ways. Their situations gave rise to strengths they didn’t know they had. Relationships were enhanced. Through the adversity they became stronger and more resilient. In that moment, the client who posed the question was able to realize these things were already happening and the time was now to make the best of a difficult situation.
Perhaps the view from our Lazy-Boy won’t cut it when we are faced with great difficulty. It is with the biggest problems we need to zoom out furthest. Find a higher ground, be it from a skyscraper, mountaintop or standing on your desk. With the courage to change our perspective and be open to the learning we can shift from problem to opportunity in the blink of an eye. From this new perspective the problem becomes smaller or different indeed.
Years ago I had such an experience. I was laid off from a job of ten years when I was supposed to return to work following maternity leave. With the added responsibility of a baby and a three year old I was quite flummoxed about what the heck to do. With the immediate support from a wise neighbour about how to approach a job search, my perspective changed.
Rather than apply for jobs, I set out to meet employers and showcase my portfolio. That subtle shift changed everything. The impending stress turned to challenge and fun, and became a great experience. The process allowed me to get a good feel for the market and how I fit into it. I was now coming from a position of strength versus "woe is me." And of course I eventually got a job with an employer who originally didn’t have a position.
In art school we were taught to step back from our work to get a different perspective. Just imagine the Sistine Chapel if Michaelangelo had only viewed it inches from his face where he painted it.
Zooming in and out confirms we’re on the right track or illuminates flaws and necessary change. Can this principal be applied to your career? Your health? Your relationships?
How do you look at your problems?
Are they energy-draining stressors or challenges to be addressed?
Is physical activity a painful bore or an endorphin fiesta?
Is nutritious food bland and boring, or energy building and life enhancing?
Every single thing in our life provides the opportunity for growth if we allow it. I read somewhere that success is the art of solving problems. That works for me.
Changing your perspective solves problems and reduces stress. It might mean going to higher ground, or jumping in your car and going zoom zoom zoom. What do you need to do, who do you need to talk to, or where do you need to go to change your viewpoint?
And if you want to stay happily married for 25 years, how you view your partner can make all the difference. How high will you go to change the view down below?