February 21, 2011

It’s Simply a Matter of Perspective

Day 52: 20.1 miles/1:12

“Everyone’s perspective is valid from where they stand.”

I was enjoying coffee with good and intelligent friend, Lon Safko this morning.  We were discussing all things critical to the saving of the world – social media, communication, understanding addiction, 100 Pedals, sales, etc.

During the course of our conversation, I was explaining to Lon that one of the toughest challenges for me as it relates to my son’s struggle is understanding addiction in the first place.  When it comes to anything – a goal, a commitment, a decision to quit an abusive habit – my narrow perspective has been that it starts with a decision to make it so and the rest is merely about focus.   Over the past year, I have painfully learned that it is not that easy.

At the end of our conversation, Lon shared a very powerful story that reminded me of the power of perspective and how a lack of perspective can cloud our vision.  Hoping Lon won’t mind, the story is about a hike he and his daughter, then around 8, were on.  The hike, while not super hard, featured a long climb to a higher elevation.  Well into the walk, his daughter started to repeatedly inquire as to “how much farther?” and “are we there yet?”  Finally, Lon looked into the horizon and pointed to a gigantic rock very close to where the destination was and said “we are going to that big rock.”  His daughter said, “I don’t see the rock.”  Lon tried several different times to try to help point out the location of the rock.  Each time his daughter said “daddy, I don’t the rock.”  Finally, he was so exasperated he kneeled down next to her to point out the rock – he couldn’t see it.  There was just enough of a change in the slope of the landscape that the rock was not visible from his daughter’s perspective.  Everyone’s perspective is valid from where they stand.

I have struggled, at times, understanding my son’s inability to simply commit and stop using.  I couldn’t figure it out.  From my perspective, it was about simply making a commitment and honoring it.

Business owners often get frustrated by their teams’ inability to simply engage, be motivate and get things done.  They don’t have any understanding of the perspective of the challenge from their employees’ perspective.

If you want to inspire, lead, and guide people to accomplish great things or to simply keep them moving, you need to understand their perspective as much as you would desire and expect them to understand yours.  Everyone comes to an opportunity, a challenge, a mission, or a project with a perspective on where they are and what they need.  Until you get down to their level and understand what that is, chances are your progress will be slower than you had expected because you don’t have the whole picture.

The more I understand and delve into addiction, the more I can support Brandon and help myself.  The added perspective has changed my original view significantly.  I can see so much more and, as a result, be more productive in the entire recovery and parenting process.   Remember, all perspectives matter.

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About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.