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That's An Interesting Perspective

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
-Marcus Aurelius

Each of us has a unique perspective on life and no two are exactly the same. Many of us may have things in common or share similar beliefs, however, there is absolutely no way for you to truly understand what another being is feeling and experiencing. You simply have to take their word for it. When someone tells you they are happy, you choose to either believe or disbelieve them based on the information you’ve been given. But no matter how much you analyze and interpret, there will always be a margin for error. You are the only one who truly understands your personal thoughts, feelings, emotions and ultimate perspective, and no one sees the world through your eyes the same way you do. When someone says they have “more experience” or that they “know better” than you, they are mistaken. They simply have a “different experience” or “different knowledge” than yours. Luckily, once we better understand and respect one another as individuals, the difference in perspective does NOT have to be adversarial.

When looking for a place to start, we’ve found the RHETI Enneagram test to be an extremely useful assessment tool in both life and in business. While there is a shorter, free version available on their site, I would highly recommend the full version as well as this book for even more explanation. Upon test completion, you receive the details on your individual perspective along with suggestions to which 3 types you most resonate with. Not only does the test explain your perspective, it also discusses the relationships between you and the other types and how you interact with one another. This gives incredible insight into why people respond in different ways. We’ve all seen someone react to a certain situation in the completely opposite way in which you would have. You rack your brain trying to figure out.. “Why would someone do it like that?!” It doesn’t make sense because you can only see the situation from your perspective. With the Enneagram, each perspective is explained with reasoning as to why certain personality types react in those off-putting ways, and what sort of reactions can be expected according to personality type. And once you better understand these differing viewpoints (the “how and why”), you gain a communicative advantage across the board. It’s much easier to communicate with someone when you speak the same language… and now you know how to speak and react universally.

Now that you understand (or acknowledge) the multiple perspectives outside of your own, it’s time to talk about respect. I’ve taken the Enneagram several times over the last few years, and what I’ve learned is that perspectives change. A lot can change in a year, or two, or three… and once you realize that your outlook on the world is constantly changing and adapting, you can begin to accept the concept that there is no right or wrong; just different. One person will see things one way, and another person a different way. There is no harm in this; we simply have two perspectives that don’t see eye-to-eye. On the contrary, if someone only knows, understands and believes that there is only one, objective life experience and that they are somehow “doing it better” than you, there is an inherently adversarial relationship. You cannot be right if there is no “right.” However, if another person, perspective or outlook is merely different and non-threatening (derived through basic human understanding), no conflict has to exist. You can have your opinion and they can have theirs. You don’t presume to know what they want or tell them what to do based on your specific (yet limited) life circumstances, and they’ll do the same. In other words: You do you.

We all have choices. And through our unique and varying perspectives, we make these choices for ourselves individually. Seneca the Younger states, “You are your choices.” So what do you do when other, 3rd party factors are influencing your choices? Maybe you’re allowing yourself to be influenced by your environment, or circumstances that you don't wholly agree with. Maybe you’re being emotionally manipulated into following some else’s world view or have compromised your goals in favor of another’s. It’s okay… most of us have, at some point, strayed from our original intentions and hopped on the band wagon of collective thinking. No worries. This simply allowed you to recognize other perspectives, and to realize that maybe you prefer something different. And since you have the power of choice, you can choose to find a new environment. This can be a job, a town, or simply a part of the room you’re standing in. You always have the choice to remove yourself to a more suitable location based on your preferences and perspective. There is no need to find a reason or an excuse because you have absolute control over yourself and the ability to make your own decisions. Environment is extremely important since epigenetics shows how our genetic material can be altered through our actions and decisions. Your DNA will begin to take on the characteristics of your surroundings, so choose wisely! You have a unique perspective that is neither right nor wrong and no one knows better for you than YOU. And once we all understand and respect these subtle yet important differences, we can move forward without compromise or confusion.

“If you don’t like what’s playing, change the channel.”
-Art Hochberg
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