Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Water Jugs and Perspective

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Water Jugs and Perspective

Living in Shanghai, our drinking water comes in 18.9L jugs, delivered by bike. These plastic jugs are returned for refill. While they are delivered wrapped in plastic with new seals, you might imagine that they get quite scratched.

Much to my amazement, this week we had a very clear, almost new jug. I’d never seen one before. It had a nice even blue tone. You could see clearly through both sides of the jug.

I noticed myself thinking “wow, that water looks good”. And then, caught myself; it’s the same old distilled water we have every day. But it still looked much more inviting!

The clear jug is analogous to a positive perspective. How we “see” a situation determines much about how we will experience it. If I look at the jug and see clear, fresh water, my mind is expecting clear, fresh water. If I look at the jug and see regular water, I probably won’t even notice the water when I drink it. If I look at the jug and see all of the bicycles it has been on and the roads of Shanghai it has traveled down, I might not even want to drink the water.

Perspectives are judgments we bring to a situation. Often they can be disempowering – “this will be hard”, “I just need to get through this”, “I can’t stand dealing with ...”, and the outcome will generally meet expectations.

Shifting your perspective might mean thinking about how it could be enjoyable, where the learning or accomplishment could come from, how responsibility could be taken for success.

Next time you raise your water glass, notice how the glass affects the water inside. Next time you face a challenging situation, think about what perspective you can take to ensure a positive outcome.

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