In the previous post, I introduced “more views” by pointing to some more-or-less common examples: change the physical location/position from which you’re looking; change the state of mind you’re in while you look (are you curious, angry, blissful, desperate, frustrated…?); ask someone else for his or her view and really listen; develop yourself in some way that opens a perspective you’ve not previously held. Each of these is valid, and I’ll focus this post on the final one—the additional views (i.e. perspectives) that emerge as the result of ongoing development. As I use “development” here, I’m referring specifically to change that leads to a more comprehensive, balanced and complex awareness of oneself, others and the world at large.
Here’s a “real life” example: This morning’s national political news focused on the following: “I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a longtime adviser to Mr. Romney, said in response to a question about pivoting to a matchup with Mr. Obama and appealing to moderate swing voters. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
Mr. Romney’s view of this led him to defend himself: “The issues I’m running on will be exactly the same,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m running as a conservative Republican, I was a conservative Republican governor, I’ll be running as a conservative Republican nominee — or, excuse me, at that point, hopefully, nominee for president.”
His opponents (who appeared holding those wonderful red-framed Etch-a-Sketches) used Mr. Fehrnstrom’s words to support their anti-Romney views. From Rick Santorum: “You take whatever he said and you can shake it up and it will be gone and he’s going to draw a whole new picture for the general election.” And from Newt Gingrich: “Etch a Sketch is a great toy, but a losing strategy.”
While these three (spokesperson, candidate, opponents) views differ, they effectively come from the same levels of awareness and complexity (and several other factors), i.e. adult white males who are committed to becoming or supporting the next Republican presidential candidate.
Taking a step back, here’s another perspective: Mr. Fehrnstrom’s comment was an accurate statement about the difference between running for the nomination within the Republican party, and what would be necessary to run for the Presidency. A different opponent in President Obama, and a different set of voters (all parties and independents) call for a different strategy. Mr. Romney, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich know this is true. Each of them wants to win, so, working from the same statement and in essential agreement on its strategic truth, Romney defends himself and Santorum and Gingrich attack him.
Another step back and another perspective: Beyond Mr. Fehrnstrom’s statement and the various responses to it, all of the attention paid to this “incident” and other “misstatement incidents” is evidence of the superficial nature of this political campaign and the media coverage of it. If we (were willing to) rewind and listen to the Republican debates and each candidate’s campaign talks, especially when each was criticizing the other, we would find very little to qualify any of these folks to “lead the free world.”
And from another step back: Were this a Democratic rather than Republican primary, aside from some different positions on issues, the process would be identical–petty schoolyard finger pointing in an attempt to get to the helm, while standing on the deck of a ship that’s setting a speed record, using outdated charts and life boats, while heading straight for an iceberg.
I could go on, and won’t. Additional, more comprehensive views are available beyond these, and, I know, beyond the most comprehensive I can see right now. Increasing awareness—the ability to hold more and more perspectives over time and space, is essential whether you’re leading your kids, your school, your community, your company or your state. And to do any of this well, you first have to lead yourself.