Powerful Perspective: Opportunities and the Arch of Time

You hear devastating news. Job loss. A diagnosis. A new baby with life-changing special needs. Your brain and heart rush through thoughts, prayers, next steps. It’s hard to gain perspective. This was not in the plan.

What now?

Perspective and the Arch of Time

I met with Bill Treasurer to talk about his new book, Leaders Open Doors. I was intrigued as to why he would be giving all the proceeds of his book to help children with special needs. His perspective is powerful. A daughter born deaf with cerebral palsy on top of life’s other complications.

“At first it was hard to adjust my expectations for what life with my daughter would be like. Now I realize that there are flowers in every situation.”

Bill believes in the perspective of the “arch of time.” The arch of time allows the good to unfold.

Over time, he’s experienced…

  • What courage looks like
  • Patience
  • Gratitude
  • New relationships
  • The desire to help
  • Opportunities

When the news is bad. It’s hard to envision anything good. How do you gain the strength to allow the arch to emerge?

Bill suggests envisioning 10 reasons you are grateful for the situation. If that’s too hard, imagine 10 positive outcomes that could come from it. And then be patient. Enjoy the mystery as each day unfolds. Celebrate the unexpected flowers.

Perspective and the Leadership Journey

How does such perspective apply to leadership? Don’t focus on the difficulty– focus on the opportunity. Don’t judge a situation too soon. Look for possible.

Bill and I share a common disdain for the phrase, “what keeps you up at night.” First, it’s over used. Second, it elicits the wrong conversation.

“It’s as if some leaders believe that the only way they’ll get any rest is as if the entire workforce shares their fears. Unless people are as afraid as they are, they think that no one will be motivated enough to address whatever is causing the leader to lose sleep.”

Keeping perspective is a powerful leadership competency. Inspire and motivate by providing opportunity, even in the darkest situations. Opportunity is motivating. Scaffold your team as they climb the arch of possibilities. The results may surprise you.

How do you keep perspective?

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Posted in Authenticity & Transparency and tagged , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

20 Comments

  1. Karin- your writing touches my heart. Your logic is amazingly simple to follow. Your Hurt name is not hurting. What a lovely post. Yes there are flowers in every situation. Think of the possible. Opportunities shall emerge.
    I do not find words to express my gratitude

  2. I just added this comment to the discussion thread on “What motivates best in the workplace?”

    http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=3044917&type=member&item=240214046&commentID=137703682&report%2Esuccess=8ULbKyXO6NDvmoK7o030UNOYGZKrvdhBhypZ_w8EpQrrQI-BBjkmxwkEOwBjLE28YyDIxcyEO7_TA_giuRN#commentID_137703682

    Ali Anani • @All- enjoy a great example of motivation in which a writer writes greatly and all proceeds go for charity. Read about a great example of motivations that have a human goal- to help the needy.

    Powerful Perspective: Opportunities and the Arch of Time

    http://letsgrowleaders.com/2013/05/15/powerful_perspectivof-the-arch-of-time/#comment-1875

  3. K,
    Thank you for your thoughtful words. You consistently remind me what is important and help me to look at situations in a better way. Your posts continue to be something I look forward to daily. And they are always good discussion starters for a group run!

  4. I go home.

    I could elaborate, but for me it is that simple.

    OK, I will elaborate.

    Between our garage and side door to our house is a breezeway. This is my area of demarcation.

    I caught myself one day coming home from awful day at work and when I closed the door to the garage and stood 12 feet from the next door, I made a decision…to smile and greet my family like I was excited to see them (because I was).

    Since then, that is my routine. No matter how crappy my day has been, that moment changes it. And I keep perspective, because I always have that to go home to.

  5. I think leaders challenges can often be multi-faceted, and that can cause feelings of overwhelm. Brains that feel overwhelmed tend to only make short term plans or decisions.

    I had a group of senior rail company managers in a class on decision making, and I asked for examples of people they knew who generally reacted better than most to significant problems.

    One manager told me about ‘Bill’. In a crisis, Bill would step outside, light a cigarette, let it burn down, and then come back in with a plan, or a starting point.

    People loved Bill in these times.

    Instead of cigarettes, (they are bad for you) we taught a ‘tool’ (strategy, technique) in this class we called ‘Neutral’. I liked to also call it the ‘if I can’t make the situation any better right now, I better not make it any worse’ tool.

    I think an appropriate amount of ‘neutral’ (seconds or days, depending) should come before moving forward. Its not doing nothing. Its preparing to do something.

    This will help you ‘step back’ to see a wider perspective, and most likely improve the wonderful suggestion of making a list of things to appreciate.

  6. Loved this post. My parents always taught us when one door closes another one opens. So even when we are faced with a devastating situation we have faith that this to shall pass and better things are ahead, I think the older you get it becomes easier to see that big picture.Thanks again for inspiring so many of us with your blog.

  7. Great post! I agree perspective is important. When I was a senior in high school a lot of negative things happened to me at once. To best deal with it, I started envisioning that the downswing was like jumping on a trampoline; and while I might feel low in the moment I would bounce back even better than before. That image has helped me gain a positive perspective around difficult times ever since!

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