1. How has your perspective of the world changed in the past year?
2. What has caused this change?
3. What perspectives do you now hold that you think will never change and why?
Answer these questions with one concise, well-written paragraph each (no more than 5 sentences per paragraph) and submit when you are finished.
But why is there red in the chart? It’s because, in business, there are always things that happen that you’ll never see. I learned this lesson the hard way. In 2007, I went to Kenya with my family and I was so sure we’d be successful in business. We had done our business plans for months, we had prayed, discussed, agreed and done everything in our power. The day we arrived in Kenya, our work permit was denied. Two weeks later, the country erupted in violence due to the national elections.
Reflect on these questions for a moment:
1. How fast were you able to come up with the answers?
2. How accurate were you with the answers?
3. Did another person help you see the correct solution that you missed?
4. Did another person help you answer any of the questions faster?
5. If you had to answer these questions in a timed competition, would you have a better chance of winning if you could choose your partner?
Now think about this: if solving these puzzles represented your ability to perform well in your business and your level of profit was tied into the speed and accuracy to which you found the correct solutions, in the face of stiff competition, wouldn’t it help to have a really smart partner— someone who was perfectly gifted to take on these challenges?
Business is much like puzzle solving. We have buyers who bring to us a unique set of challenges or desires. We have to find a way to fulfill those desires better than the person down the street ... and now that we’re living in a global village in this remarkable age of the Internet, we must remember that we’re often competing against a professional team of people on a different side of the world.
How can we serve our customers better, give them more value, faster, more thoroughly, at a competitive cost than our competitor down the street or across the world? Having a great teammate to solve these puzzles gave us an advantage. Let me suggest to you that maybe having some great teammates in business would give us an advantage.
If you’re a worm, digging in the ground is a lot more relaxing than going fishing.
To understand the importance of perspective, let’s set the scene. Let’s say it’s a rainy Saturday and you decide to go shopping with a friend for some badly needed clothes. You go to the local mall and find your favorite store. You’re walking the aisles and you come to the section that has the type of clothes you need.
A sales clerk walks up to you. At this point (be honest here), do you care more about yourself, or about the sales clerk. Mostly, people are pretty self-centered, aren’t they? Aren’t we? When you go shopping, you’re thinking about yourself, right? So, if you have an idea for a product or service that you want to sell, ask yourself these questions:
• If I were the customer, why would I want this?
• Why would I want to take advantage of this?
• Why would I come to this store, instead of the
other competitors in the same area?
• What’s in it for me, the customer?
• Who cares?
• So what?
The point of these questions is this: in business, your perspective doesn’t count as much as does the perspective of the customer. You see, the customer is not there for you. The customer doesn’t exist to make you happy. It’s the opposite. You’re there for the customer. Your purpose is to serve the customer. Your success in business is directly related to the value you can create for the customer and how well you can serve them. And your profit is one of the key items on your scorecard of how well you are doing.
You must become great at systematically developing other perspectives. You must have people help you analyze your idea for weaknesses, gaps, flaws, ... and ways to make your idea even better.
Think again of the racehorse with blinders on it. This works well for a horse but it isn’t right for people, although we all live with some type of blinders.
Imagine walking around with blinders. You come to a field of opportunities but you only have a limited perspective.
You say, “Here’s a great idea!” And it might be a wonderful idea that will change the world. However, understand this: by yourself it is only possible to see a small percentage of the field—like a small piece of the pie.
In business, you can’t be arrogant. Someone who is so sure of himself that he has all the answers is foolish. You have to walk in humility. You have to have the attitude, “I can only see one perspective of this problem. Who can help me see other perspectives?” When you come in with that attitude, it allows you the opportunity to peel back the blinders and see so much more of the solution.
The industry of tourism that we were going to operate our business in just closed. It was a hard time and eventually we had to leave Kenya. It was also very costly for us. Eventually, we saw God’s redemption in that, but it wasn’t until years later.
Thus realize that you will never be able to analyze an idea perfectly. But understand, too, that bringing other minds in to analyze your idea will normally give you an exponential increase in your understanding.