It is snowing outside, and I am carrying an injury.  I have flu like symptoms, and I am about to go for a nine-mile run.  Joyce, my wife tells me I should give it a miss today.  “But Joyce you don’t understand if I miss a run it is going to affect my time when I race at the weekend; the team need the points; there is a trophy on the line and I am the captain.”  I am pretty sure I hear Joyce murmur “Diva” and then “Prima Donna” This was some years ago when I was an athlete for both Colchester Harriers and my Army unit.  

Joyce and I recently recalled this example of losing my perspective when something had not been done at work.  I was becoming anxious and I was not focusing on conversations going on around me.  My sense of perspective had gone out the window and I really had to get things back into perspective, which was difficult as I felt that this was something beyond my control.

Do you have trouble keeping a perspective?  I have been thinking about maintaining a positive perspective recently, especially having gone through Covid19 and all that this has entailed not just for my family, but other people’s experiences – some of them tragic. 

Who is this article for? (apart from myself) 

  • If you are feeling under pressure
  • You are spinning lots of plates (both at home and work)
  • Dealing with unexpected events (big or small)
  • Constantly worrying and feeling overwhelmed
  • you feel there is no end in sight of your current situation

Five Lessons I have learned about keeping a perspective (and often must re-learn):

  1. Will this situation matter in six months’ time?  I think I first learned this lesson when I was a Registered Care Home Manager over 20 years ago.  There always seemed to be an emerging crisis, when I took a step back (usually on my drive home) I often thought “in six months will this be a vague memory or a valuable experience?” 
  2. Share how you feel with someone who is not involved in the situation, so you have an independent observation.  Mentors are good and help you keep a cool head.  I am super lucky, I have Joyce.   You would be surprised how quickly I calm down when Joyce asks me if World War 3 has broken out? 
  3. To look at the whole “picture”, keeping  things in proportion to everything else that is going on around me.   I found stepping back from the issue I was concerned about enabled me to gain more clarity, or objectivity.
  4. Ask yourself this question – What is the worst that could happen?  Then write it down.  I find that when I see it in ink, I can gain a sense of proportion.
  5. To slow things down and be mindful.  Taking a walk with nature can be soothing and rejuvenating, so you are ready to tackle the situation that had previously felt so insurmountable.

Related:  Being Bettina’s Dad: Bettina transforming my life with mindfulness – Leadership in the Raw

“If you woke up this morning in a nice warm bed, if all your loved ones are safe and happy and you have food/water – why wouldn’t you be grateful?”   Joyce Raw

And one thing to remember:

Five things I need to do when the next time I think I am about to lose my perspective:

  1. Laugh at myself – take your situation seriously but don’t take yourself seriously
  2. Take some time out (if only for 30 minutes), this afternoon I went for a run in a nature reserve where I have been training for the last 30 years and thankfully is often deserted.  I came away refreshed and with lots of ideas – one of which is the subject for my next blog post!
  3. Remember the last time you felt like this?  What did you do that worked? Do that!
  4. Remember you came through this before – back yourself to do so again.
  5. Take time to be grateful for everything you have.  Gratitude gives you the ability to overcome worry, confusion, frustration, resentment, and dark moments in your life.

Related: Being Bettina’s Dad – Taking the time to be grateful and showing gratitude – Leadership in the Raw

And one thing to remember:  Have a cut off time (in a normal working week for me it is 7pm) when you switch off your laptop and stop looking at your smartphone.  You are exhausted and if you are making decisions when you are tired, they may be the wrong ones!

And finally……

I went for that run, hardly seeing one foot in front of me as I ran head down against the driving snow – you could say I had lost my perspective.   I was young(er), foolish and (according to Joyce) a bit of a diva.  Now?  Now I have no excuses, the next time I start to lose my perspective……. 

Steve Raw