The latest newsletter from Harvey Mackay, acclaimed author and chairman of Mackay Mitchell Envelope Company—a small failing envelope company in 1959 and today a $100 million business—when I read it, can be applied to quite a few current affairs situations in T&T. His newsletter reads: “We’ve reached a point in our country’s history where authority and power seem to be manifested by the need to shout down the other person. Discussion and compromise are words freely bandied about, but they’ve largely lost their meaning. What is really lost is perspective. Just as there are two (or more) sides to every story, there are plenty of different ideas on how to get things done. No one person has a corner on that market. A lot depends on who is doing the looking. Consider the story of three people of different occupations as they looked at the Grand Canyon:
The priest said: “What a glory of God!”
The geologist said: “What a wonder of science!”
The cowboy said: “What an awful place to lose a horse!”
How we approach an issue often colours our thinking about the result we wish to achieve. What we want may not coincide with the next person’s desired outcome. Our motives are not wrong, just very different. We need to respect each others views and consider that our own may not be the only one with real merit. Sure, that’s easier said than done. But it can be done! And some of the most creative and powerful people in the world have offered very helpful suggestions for expanding our perspective so that we can truly work together.
Will Rogers, a uniquely American humorist summed up perspective this way: “You must never disagree with a man while you are facing him. Go around behind him and look the same way he is looking and you will see that things look different from what they do when you’re facing him. Look over his shoulder and get his viewpoint, then go back and face him and you will have a different idea.”
Perspective is critical in most situations. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of dismissing issues with statements like, “it’s all just a matter of perspective.” That is too often another way of saying that the other person’s perspective is not as important as yours. Will we ever be able to bring ourselves to see the other person’s point of view?
Have you heard about the aging race horse that tried and tried but just couldn’t run fast enough to win any races, or even finish in the money? His impatient owner told the jockey, “Either that horse wins some money in today’s race or his next assignment is going to be pulling a milk wagon.”
The jockey loved the horse and did everything he could to spur the horse on. He muttered sweet words to him as they went around the first turn. And on the backstretch, he shouted loud words of encouragement. But as the horse faltered in the stretch, the jockey started laying on the whip with terrible force.
At this, the horse turned his head to the jockey and said, “Hey, man, take it easy on that whip. I’ve got to get up and go to work in the morning.”
Mackay’s Moral: The difference between a horse’s front end and back end is a matter of perspective.