Have you ever wondered why you can have two different people with the same experience and talent in the same environment, and one continues to struggle while the other thrives?
The difference between them lies in something often overlooked but crucial to your professional success: perspective.
The parable of the three bricklayers illustrates its importance:
Once upon a time, a traveler came upon three bricklayers. When asked by the traveler, “What are you doing?” the first bricklayer replied, “I’m laying bricks.”
Asked the same question, the second bricklayer answered, “I’m putting up a wall.”
The third bricklayer considered the query and responded with pride in his voice, “I’m building a cathedral.”
Your perspective is the lens through which you view yourself, your career, and the world. It affects the story you tell yourself and the story you tell others and impacts your potential. It influences your behavior, thoughts, and opinions and how (or if) you believe you can make an impact. Perspective is often the difference between someone’s career soaring or sinking, but there is good news for those who occupy the latter camp.
Here are two encouraging truths about perspective:
1. It’s a choice
For better or worse, the perspective we hold is a choice and often correlates to the degree of pessimism or optimism we possess.
Ask yourself: Am I someone who is easily annoyed? Do I feel like the world is out to get me and that I’m surrounded by idiots? When we’re pessimistic, we tend to adopt a victim mentality, and that negativity affects our attitude in many other harmful ways. We also tend to judge others and make up our minds before listening and learning about alternatives.
However, those who choose optimism tend to be curious and tolerant of new ideas and people and are less likely to be thrown off course because of an unexpected setback. Their openness builds trust naturally, which allows them to connect with others more easily. Maintaining this positive attitude also helps remind them to be grateful and pay attention to all the good things in their lives, creating a contagious and virtuous ripple effect.
2. It can change
Fortunately, even if we have a less-than-desirable perspective, we can shift our mindset to view things through a new lens.
For instance, if you feel like what you’re doing is “just a job,” and that you’re simply punching the clock, you’re stuck in a fixed mindset where you believe that your intelligence or talent is set in stone. Worse, you’re likely allowing fear to creep in and make you feel that what you’re doing doesn’t matter, sending you into a self-defeating spiral of doom.
By contrast, those with a growth mindset believe they can — and will — improve and see every opportunity as a chance to grow and learn. They embrace their environment as a training ground and easily see how their collaboration with others and contributions, no matter how small, power the bigger picture. These folks also use their self-awareness to connect with and infuse a sense of purpose into their career-related activities and envision the possibilities.