Thursday, February 5, 2015

A moment in the third person can change your world

Over the years, this idea of how to gain perspective has been a growing priority in my professional life. It was almost twenty years ago that I actually wrote this idea on the white board in a co-workers office, trying to encourage him to slow down, take a moment and reflect on his world from outside of the frenetic day to day, and reassess his action plan going forward. Well to say the least if that advice was appropriate in 1995, it certainly is more so applicable today in 2015!

This idea of finding a way to “step out” of the heat of the moment to gain some perspective is clearly not a new idea. Plutarch, as a priest at the Oracle of Delphi, reminds us that one of the key inscriptions at the temple in Delphi was the Greek phrase translated, “Know Thyself.” The ability to “know thyself” is obviously no simple thing, and finding the ability to step outside of yourself, and your day to day actions and interactions may be harder still. As I reflect on the tempo of our work reality today, fueled and accelerated by technology and devices, this ability to “step back” may be harder than ever. We spend so much time in the hectic first and second person today, the concept of “slowing down” or “reflection” seems completely counter cultural. We are either sending texts, emails, tweets, etc. or responding to those sent to us at all hours of the day, a furious back and forth in the first and second person reality of our lives. While it seems very simple to say, it is very hard to find the time/space/courage to step away from that back and forth and truly reflect on your own situation.

This idea/need was brought to life last month at a presentation that I lead at a health care industry conference. I was leading a discussion on the idea of “The Gravity of Success” (see previous blog essays, “The Gravity of Success” and “The Gravity of Blockbuster”) , and focused on the idea of what made you and your business great in the past can and will be a barrier to future success. During the Q&A session, one person commented very honestly that with everything on his plate, and how busy and challenged he was in his day to day job, he was unsure on where to start. In a bit of a “rainman” response, I blurted out that “a moment in the third person can change your world,” and I encouraged him and the audience to find just a few moments to step back/away from their day to day, in order to reflect on main drivers of their past successes and if/how/when those same drivers could be the barriers to their future success. Now in a Q&A session at a conference it certainly was easy for me to share that advice, but regardless of environment, the course of action remains very true.

Regardless of your role, industry, age or experience, this idea holds very true. Take a moment today, or this week, and find a few minutes to ask yourself a few key questions from a third person perspective:

• What’s important to me?
• How am I spending my time on what’s important?
• Am I making progress on what’s important to me?
• Am I having the impact on others as I want?
• What should I start / stop/ or change in what I am doing today?

While there are certainly more than five questions to ask, this is a pretty good place to start. Find that time, “step back” from the frenetic day to day tempo of your world, and allow yourself the time and candor to ask and answer these five questions as a starting point, and look for ways that your time in the “third person” can start changing your world!