What’s Your Perspective?
IS IT A 6 OR A 9?
This popular meme is floating around the internet of a person on the left looking down at a numerical symbol on the ground saying it’s a six; while another person on the opposite (right) looking at the same figure on the ground says it is a nine. Well, let me ask you, who do you think is right? Who’s wrong? *Spoiler Alert*: The point of the meme is to show that both are right and neither is wrong! But how can that be when both people are giving different responses while looking at the same figure on the ground? It all boils down to perspective. It’s not a matter of who’s right or wrong; instead, it’s just different. They each are looking at the same figure from two different vantage points, therefore leading to two different perspectives – and thus, two right answers.
We often go through life making the mistake of assuming that other people have the same perspective as we do. Are you guilty of doing this with your colleagues or to a significant other? Lo and behold, if we are wise enough to acknowledge that others hold different perspectives, our subconscious sentiment is usually that they have to be wrong – and sometimes we even tell ourselves that they are downright crazy – if their point of view doesn’t align or agree with our own. It’s important to recognize that your perspective creates a gateway to your expectations. Growing up, my grandfather always told me to believe 50% of what I see and none of what I hear. What a wise man he was for teaching me at a young age to not take my perspective too seriously! He always encouraged me to consider the erroneous information that should be coloring my perspective. Before any wavelength of information travels past my ear canals to the left side of my brain to draw logical conclusions, or the right side of my brain to stir my emotions, I stop to think about what experiences might have colored the other person’s lens. Factors such as unconscious bias, our parents or childhood upbringings, our level of exposure to culture, the media, social media, our good and bad experiences – to name a few. In essence, how do they holistically view the world? The sooner that we realize people view life through a different lens, the easier our interpersonal relations can become and communication barriers can be broken down.
Do you remember February 26, 2015, when the internet was set on fire by the ‘great dress debate’? The world and its largest intellectual species argued through multiple think pieces, Twitter, news articles and Facebook posts to “decide” whether the dress pictured looked gold and white or blue and black. Scientific evidence eventually intervened to prove that both could be correct. According to research, the way that light enters each individual’s eye varies, and therefore it could be rightfully viewed by some as white/gold and blue/black by others, depending on who you asked. (Now if you’re still saying to yourself: ‘Yeah, that’s cool – but what color was the actual dress?!’ – then you have missed the entire point of this post. Please do not pass go, and do not collect $200!)
So What Am I Getting At With All Of This Talk?
It’s advantageous to understand how your own experiences shape your personal lens, and I’m a huge advocate for seeing a therapist to have a neutral party involved to help you in this discovery. Everybody is entitled to have an opinion, but when was the last time that you mentally met a different perspective with empathy or actually changed your mind from your original thoughts? (Bonus points if you gave the new opinion as your own when asked about the topic at a later date!)
So how does a 90-day challenge sound? Here’s where you come in: I humbly request that you begin to be more open to exploring life beyond your own perspective (i.e. listening, reading, discussing, and pondering) a different vantage point outside of your own. This means for the next 90 days when you hear of a controversial story in the news, (i.e. parents tragically suffer the loss of a child) you stop and sincerely try to put yourself in that parent’s shoes to understand how it might have happened. The next time you see a video on social media of another black boy under the age of 18 being shot, stop to feel that mother’s pain and anguish before dissecting the incident and making a comment on what the child did or didn’t deserve. When your son or daughter comes home to express an opinion about a little boy or girl that may be exhibiting homosexual behavior, why not diminish stereotypes early by asking your child what he or she thinks or how it make them feel? Then, instead of asserting your perspective, you follow up with another probing question or two. It starts here when you read blog posts on the ME3 site; I hope that you are open to a fresh – or refreshed – perspective on topics that may have nothing to do with your immediate household. It’s the first step to making our homes safe spaces for us to learn, discuss, and grow in our empathy together. The next 90 days can lead to an incremental lifestyle change!
Continue dancing with love,
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” –Maya Angelou
#Blackboyjoy Discussion Starters:
- When was the last time that you asked questions to learn more from someone that had a different perspective than your own?
- What do you think you can gain from being open to exploring our blog posts on the ME3 site?
- Do you consciously allow your children to formulate an opinion before you exert your perspective? How so?
If there are particular diversity and or inclusion topics of interest that you would like to see a blog posting, please let us know.
Nasiya Acklen is a native of Nashville, TN. She matriculated at Hampton University for her undergraduate degree and received her MBA from Cornell University. Nasiya is currently a Human Resources professional at a Fortune 500 company and has a burning passion for being a change agent, particularly in the realm of Diversity & Inclusion. Nasiya has adopted Maya Angelou’s quote as a personal mantra: My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.