Still being sore of my hike up Mt. Kinabalu last weekend, I was realizing how much our perspective drives our experiences and in the end our life. Having done a lot of research on what to expect when climbing the mountain, I was expecting it to be a hard climb with potentially rain all the way. At the start of the climb I set my mind that it would take me an hour per kilometer. When the first kilometer past in 30min and the second in the next 30min I was totally delighted on the progress. If I on the other hand expected it to be a piece of cake, I probably would have been in for a nasty surprise. I have had the same experience when climbing Half Dome in Yosemite, California. Having heard how hard it would be, I was wondering the whole climb when the climb would really start.
Both experience re-emphasized what I already knew deep down inside that your perspective drives the experience you have and the endurance you bring to the task. It is no different in our work. Most of my projects are major high profile rescue situations where I deal with extremely unhappy customers and company executives. The perspective that I bring to the table is to keep my eye on the end result while at the same time I listen to the emotions and acknowledge them without letting them interfere to get to the result.
I believe a critical success factor is not to be “married” to one perspective or idea but to have an open-mind to hear other people’s perspective and also take into account the continuous changing environment around us. In the end Reality is just our interpretation of it. As long as we are consciously aware of that it means we have to power to change our interpretation. For example, when I feel that nothing is going right and everybody is out to get me, I remind myself of the fact that simply having been born where I was and living here in the US, puts me in the top 5% most fortunate people in this is world. That simple fact gives me a sea of choices. Life would be about survival if I would have been born in Afghanistan or Rwanda. I would definitely not be worried about project risks and issues.
I am sure my perspective of Mt. Kinabalu would have been totally different if my hike was through pouring rain with zero view when reaching the summit. (which was the case for the people hiking up the day before me). However, even in that situation it is up to me to pick the perspective: a) I can grumble that it totally sucked and was a waste of my time or b) that it was an amazing experience in which the weather didn’t cooperate.
Next time you are upset, the business or the tech guys don’t cooperate, or the project is falling apart, see if you can change your perspective and still find a positive side that will lead to a solution.