Oh, hindsight! Why are you always 20/20? It’s one of life’s greatest frustrations. We look back with such clarity on events and situations that seemed cloudy and confusing when we were in their midst. Somehow, getting distance from a situation helps us see things clearly. This is not particularly helpful when we’re in the middle of the storm.
One of my greatest strengths is strategy. I’m not good at a lot of things, but I can walk into a situation, very quickly take stock of the variables and establish an accurate assessment of strengths and weaknesses. One of my favorite things to do is to take that assessment and help people develop strategies and establish systems for getting from where they are to where they want to be. For whatever reason, this comes incredibly easy to me. (Math on the other hand… not so much.) So, why, for the love of everything, can I not do this for myself?
I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say that this is an incredibly common problem. The things we’re able to do for others, we often have trouble doing for ourselves. This is because we lack the proper perspective.
I’m not a sports-inclined person. I don’t just mean that I’m not athletic (though I’m really not), I just am not drawn to sports and I don’t know much about them. (Though I have a great, full-proof system of phrases to use when participating in sports-related conversations which lead sports fans to believe that I know exactly what I’m talking about! But, that’s a story for another day.) All that to say, I’m about to use a sports analogy. If I mess it up or my information is incorrect, I’ve given you the disclaimer.
It was Super Bowl Sunday many, many years ago, and I was watching the big game with friends and family. I noticed that the coaches on the sidelines were wearing headsets with microphones on them and asked a friend what that was all about and who they were talking to. He told me that the coach was talking to people situated at a higher level in the stadium. Coaches on the field, he explained, are right in the middle of the chaos of the game. They can’t get the big picture perspective of the whole field, so they rely on the perspective of others to make their decisions.
BOOM! The perfect analogy for life! That same coach could probably walk into a stadium where a game is in progress and immediately have ideas for the plays that the teams on the field should be implementing. (You know… Like every sports fan seems to do when they watch a game on their televisions!) However, being right in the middle of the action, he needs the perspective of others to see the big picture and make informed decisions.
Back to hindsight being 20/20… We have GOT to learn to be able to identify the storm before it’s too late! So often we don’t even realize (or don’t want to admit) that we’re in the middle of something we need to get some perspective on. We can quickly rationalize ignoring things by convincing ourselves that “it’s not that bad!” But, maybe it is! There are two keys to getting perspective on whatever you’re going through when you’re in it, instead of later when it’s less than useful.
1. Recognize the Signs! Everyone has bad days (and even a bad week or month occasionally), but if you consistently have anxiety about your job or relationship, there’s a good chance that you’re in a storm of some sort. If you feel like there’s chaos and confusion around you (or within you) all the time, something is probably up. If uncertainty is the reason for the anxiety, chaos and confusion… you’re definitely going to want to look into that ASAP!
2. Once you’ve recognized the signs… Get help! Find someone in your life who can be the person (or people) on the other end of your headset giving you an objective perspective. (Remember: an "objective person" is someone who doesn't stand to gain or lose anything by whichever decision you make. Find someone who has no vested interest in your decision except for wanting you to be happy and healthy. They are also, generally speaking, not someone who is a part of the organization you’re in. They’ll have their own biases and subconscious motivations affecting their perspectives.) After you have that person or people in place, then you’re going to do something truly crazy: Listen to them! (You have to actually be open to what they have to say!)
Here’s the thing… I’ve been there many times. These may seem like obvious or overly-simple steps… but they are the first things we ignore or forget and they are the ones that have the potential to save us! At times, getting that outside perspective has helped me realize that I’m worrying about nothing and that I’m actually missing some amazing things happening right in front of my face! On the other hand, more times than not, it’s helped me to recognize some real red flags. On multiple occasions, it was getting this perspective that helped me to realize that it might be #Time2MoveOn!