Perspective: What Are You Looking At?

My coaching clients and I do a lot of perspective work. We all see things our way, and often think it is the best, right, or only way. But look at your point of view from another perspective, and you often run into a real “Aha!’ moment.

Doing perspective work isn’t easy. It requires you to imagine what someone else believes or thinks. Often, a good way to get there is to use images. It makes it easier to imagine.

Clouds on Lake Michigan

Clouds on Lake Michigan

I flew to the East Coast today, through Chicago. I love Chicago–it has friendly people, great restaurants, and I love Centennial Park. But the site that always amazes me is the flight over Lake Michigan. I think of the people who stood at the edge of what looks like an ocean, and decided to cross it, not having any idea of what they would discover or encounter on the crossing. And did it anyway.

The other amazing thing is that the city of Chicago presses on the edge of Lake Michigan, busy and crowded. On the other side, are small cities, much more pastoral. Why isn’t it as busy on the other side?

It’s a perspective issue. Flying over Lake Michigan, I was struck at the luminosity of the water. Last time I saw it, in November, it was gray and dark. Today it looked turquoise and serene. Over the water were shadows, and at first I thought they were some kind of wave effect. After studying them a few minutes, I saw they were rows of clouds between the airplane and the water. It suddenly “clicked” in my head, and then I couldn’t see it any other way.

Perspective work in coaching is like that. You see one thing, then, with some thinking, it suddenly “clicks” and you can see it another way. It frequently is followed by a rush of understanding and

Chicago coastline

Chicago coastline


The two images are both of Lake Michigan. In the smaller image, you can see the edge of Chicago. The light-colored rectangle on the middle left edge  is the wing of the airplane.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. See more about coaching at (c) 2008. All rights reserved.