Recently, I had a discussion with my daughter about additive and subtractive art techniques. Additive art, meaning to begin with a type of blank canvas then add materials, such as paint, to create. Subtractive art is created in reverse by starting with a material, such as a wood block, and removing parts. She commented on the difficulty level and amount of time needed to break down the steps for a subtractive art project. It was a different way of drawing than she was accustomed to, but it expanded her perspective on how she could create art.
Those same principles can be applied in life, not just in art. When faced with challenges, we may be accustomed to adding “more” as a solution, but it is quite possible the best answer might require subtracting something. Other times, we might need to look at what is missing and add to it.
We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. – Albert Einstein
Even on a simple day-to-day level, we can practice expanding our perspectives by stopping to think first before passing judgment and acting. For example, a few days ago a person driving behind me was repeatedly beeping his horn for me to turn at a red light while I was waiting for traffic to clear. I first thought he was a super impatient road-raging maniac, but then I thought maybe he could be late to a very important meeting like a job interview that he desperately needed or he could have even been testing out his new horn (not likely, but possible). Although, I was very annoyed at first, I tried to think of what he was seeing or experiencing and let the annoyance pass as I continued driving to my destination. We never know the whole story, and it is possible that from his angle he could not see the line of cars coming down from the adjacent hill. Maybe he could have thought that first, before (over)reacting.
I hear the idea of expanding perspectives in corporate speak often. It is in phrases like – looking at the big picture, taking a high level view, conducting 360 reviews and taking a systems thinking approach. However it is described, businesses recognize that looking at all the information in a different way, finding patterns and determining how things are impacted is key to thinking strategically and making better decisions.
Just as we grow with new experiences, our perspectives should widen to understand people or concepts just a little more each day too.
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Is there a certain topic you are very passionate about?
You don’t necessarily need to agree with it, but try to understand an opposing view.
Have you run across a problem you can’t solve? Maybe try a different approach than you are used to.
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