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Perspective Influences Everything

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Perspective Influences Everything

Scott Miker

How we look at something is very important.  Most of us probably feel we are pretty unbiased and can judge a situation objectively.  But the reality is that our perspective will always influence our opinion of a situation.

This is why there are so many differing opinions.  We take all of our life experience and form a perspective.  In order to see things differently we have to find a way to break away from our habitual thinking. 

In 2007 scientists came out with an image of Albert Einstein.  What was unique was that the image also was of Marilyn Monroe.  They use this to test one’s eyesight.  If you have 20/20 vision you typically see Albert Einstein.  Seeing Marilyn Monroe may mean you need to visit the eye doctor for a new prescription. 

But even if you see Albert Einstein you can change your focus to see Marilyn Monroe.  By blurring your vision, looking from different angles, holding the image further away etc. you can probably start to see her image. 

The reason that I find this interesting isn’t just the science behind it and how our brain interprets images.  The really fascinating idea is that something that we see with our own eyes can deceive us. 

I remember studying Psychology and Criminal Justice for my undergraduate degree.  One of my instructors talked about eyewitnesses and how often they make mistakes.  I was shocked to see examples of these mistakes and find out how untrustworthy someone can be.

But most of the time it isn’t that the eyewitness deliberately deceived authorities about the perpetrator.  It is that they actually believed something that was untrue. 

But being able to look at things from multiple perspectives can be very enlightening.  Watching a documentary about a moment in history can cause you to feel a specific way about that moment.  But watching several documentaries about that moment in history will give you a much broader perspective. 

This is important because there are always two sides to every story and there are numerous viewpoints that can be formed.  The best thing to do is to do two important things. 

First, start to realize that everything that we think we know is still somewhat limited.  There are many different ways to view something so we should start to realize that a different perspective might shine a new light on something. 

Second, we should always strive to get as much information as possible before forming concrete opinions.  Reading one book about something isn’t enough.  If we truly want to better understand this particular subject matter then we need to explore numerous and often contradicting viewpoints to get a much clearer understanding of the whole picture. 

Only by taking those two steps can we start to really see a larger picture.  We can start to see our biases and address them.  We can start to see how we naturally form strong opinions before we have all of the information.  We start to understand how our emotions can cause us to make quick judgments but that those judgments may be misleading.  But by doing these two things we can start to break away from the limitations that accompany a biased perspective.