Desk of Brad

Learn Through Perspectives

“And those who were seen dancing, were thought to be crazy, by those who could not hear the music.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Hi Everyone,

When I was a young man, I used to spend time with an elder in our church, his name was Mike Winn. He was a retired English professor from one of the University of California schools. We struck up a friendship and I consider him an important mentor in my life. Mike taught me a lot over the years – I am very grateful to have been under his tutelage.
I love reading and, in those days, I almost always had a book in my hand. Mike took notice and started recommending books for me to read. We’d have coffee and discuss the books and authors; it was a wonderfully Socratic way of learning. Fortunately for me, he loved science fiction and fantasy fiction novels.
One of the things we spent a lot of time discussing was how authors write and construct characters and stories. He pointed out to me frequently that the best thing about reading was that you could experience the world from someone else’s perspective. That part of reading was the opportunity to experience new worlds and new personalities, including all the drama and complexity of real life without real consequences.
He would reiterate to me that if I wanted to be a good writer and/or a good leader, I would need to put myself in other people’s shoes. To see the world from their perspective, seek to understand where they were coming from and how this would impact their behavior and communication style. Years later when I was working at Nordstrom, I taught a class based on Stephen Covey’s book Principle Centered Leadership. One of the core tenants is the phrase “Seek First to Understand and then to be Understood”, the point being that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about someone until you’ve had time to seek understanding.
As technology advances, the current trend is shorter messages, emails and texts, none of which really do a very good job of conveying intent, emotion, or a common understanding. Emojis at least try to convey sentiment but it’s a crude substitute for a meaningful conversation with someone.
As we communicate with one another on Teams and in Email, be open minded, assume the best in others, seek first to understand before seeking to be understood and most importantly, remember to put yourself in other people’s shoes.

Let’s go be great!