• FMG

How to Change Your Perspective

It was 2012, I (Jenn) had been working on manipulating a 27,000 row excel spreadsheet that I exported from Quickbooks. I wanted it to do a very simple thing so I could look at data from a bunch of different angles. After about 6 hours of google searching for the answer and rolling through the depths of Excel help, I scrolled to the right and saw that there was a column that I could quickly fix that would solve all my problems. Actually I expanded my screen and could see the other 3 columns I had been neglecting for the last 6 hours.


It was a moment that summarized the week, such as it was, for me. I am often brought into clients' organizations or companies to give their problems a fresh look, a different perspective. I don't mind admitting to you that even the perspective giver can use a fresh perspective from time to time.

Here are a couple of tips I use with my clients to help gain a different perspective on an issue.

(1) Ask somebody else

Yup, it is sometimes that simple. Whether it is asking your administrative staff to proof read an article, or asking a colleague for their opinion. The, "What would you do in this situation?" question.

(2) Be open to the feedback

When you are stuck in a problem, it is very easy to get attached to your own solution. So, once you go soliciting advice and feedback, don't shoot it down, consider it. If it is possible, do a mini test to sample whether the new solution could work.

(3) Turn a problem on its head

For the more tangible, physical problems, it might be as simple as turning the problem around. For me and Excel, I simply needed to expand the screen and scroll. Wouldn't it be nice if all problems could be solved this way?

(4) Step back, and take a break

I often find lunch, or walking the dog around the office is a good way to put mental space between me and a problem. Even under a deadline, I have walked away from a project, sometimes for a minute, sometimes for an hour. When I return, I often find the situation just looks different. Cannot really explain it, but the lay of the land can change because my own perspective has changed.

(5) Ask for help

Sometimes problems can simply overwhelm us and our capacity to cope. I once had a client who hired me on the advice of her therapist. Most of our work together consisted of spit-balling ideas, giving voice to frustrations and fears, and working to a place where the client knew I would be there no matter what. There is no shame in asking for help, and it would be a shame if pride kept us from reaching out.