The Power of Perspective

I was on my way home from work the other evening, sitting at the front of the bus. A couple came on and sat down. The lady was older and couldn't hear very well so her partner was making sure to talk directly into her ear. As a result, the entire bus could hear exactly what he was saying. He was talking about loan sharks, politics, and conspiracy theories. Normally I would internally roll my eyes and stop listening but I was also reading 'The Happiness Hypothesis'.

"Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it."--Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis

The world would be a lot simpler if humans were built to be the same, or at least very similar. We would understand how each other thinks, our paths to get to a certain point in life would be the same, and our opinions would be non-existent. But of course, uniqueness is what makes the world go round. I am not going to get into the entire philosophy behind perspective, but rather, I want to focus on how perspective affects us when it comes to career choices.

Filling in the Blanks

The typical path of a person in North America generally hits a few milestones: they grow up in a middle class neighbourhood, go to public school, have friends, graduate from high school, go to university, get a job, find a partner, advance in a career, and retire. But between each of these major points, the blank space that people don't know about are what make a person intrinsically unique. These blank spaces define what they believe, how they think, who they talk to, and how they live their lives.

I spend my time worrying about financial forecasts, UX mockups, hiring, marketing, designing, reading, writing and thinking about Sokanu. My perspective is generally focused on the tech world. If I had asked the couple on the bus who Mark Suster or Fred Wilson was, they would probably look at me with confusion. But on the flip side, if they asked me any question about any other industry, I probably wouldn't be any better off. We generally exist in one world our entire lives. And it's true that each of us creates our own world. That's why perspective is so important to consider.

The Real World

When you were growing up, did your parents ever talk to you about "the real world?" You know, the one where money doesn't grow on trees, you have to work extra hard to pay the bills, promotions aren't real, a $20,000 car is all you can afford, owning a house is the greatest achievement you will have, a university degree is a key to life, etc... And the problem is, we are a product of our environment. So whatever our parents deem as the real world, we usually accept as our own. The only issue with that is there is no one real world. There are millions of real worlds co-existing on this planet at the same time.

We co-exist with billions of other people that live in their own worlds. When two people or more share overlapping features from their world, they form a tribe, and collections of those tribes form the industries that we know today. So when it comes to careers, we generally find ourselves surrounded by like-minded individuals, which is wonderful, because it allows the plethora of different personalities and talents to shine through. But the other worlds and people within them tend to be at odds with us.

Our Unique Career Paths

Choosing a career path is tough, and the education system doesn't always make it easier. Institutions try to guide you toward one of these worlds and can't take into account each student's unique perspective. This is why finding your passion is so important. Passion is not the be-all-end-all, but rather the guiding force that allows us to make the right decisions as we travel through life. Finding your passion, connecting with your tribe and achieving your goals are the first steps to take in finding a rewarding career.

People may try to nudge and guide others down a path that is more reflective of their own because it's the world they know. Whenever I have a conversation with someone who doesn't understand what I'm doing, I try to understand their perspective. How were they raised? What was their path in life? People that are not in my world very often do not have the same perspective as me. But these different perspectives are exactly what makes the world so wonderful and diverse.

A New Perspective

On the bus, I realized that though that couple probably doesn't necessarily come from the same part of the world as I do, understand the subjects I studied, or believe in the same fundamentals that I do, they are entitled to their perspective on life. Every person in the world is. And my opinion on what they should or should not believe is irrelevant. The blanks in their lives are completely different than mine.

We live in a world with multiple intelligences, and there is something to learn from everyone. In the moment before the internal eye-roll, let that be a cue for a change in perspective.