Did you ever hear the story of the guy who went to the other side? He went to the other side to see what it would look like from there. When he got back, he was amazed what this new perspective gave him. He had never really thought about what things looked like from the other side or how things are viewed from there. The perspective of the other side can clear up a lot of misconception and misunderstanding. The view from the other side was much different than how he viewed it. From his perspective everything was a certain color, but from the other side, shadows and light looked a lot different. Is this the other side of a river, a wall, or a window? No, this is the other side of your desk.
What does it look like on the other side of you? This question was posed to me this week, and it hit me hard. Many of you have been through a review process that incorporates input from peers, subordinates, and supervisors other than yours. This is similar to looking at things from the other side of you but it is lacking in a sense. There are few who are honest. Many don’t want to step on your toes because they know they are next and worry about retaliation. How do you get to see life from the other side of you? And why exactly would you want to do this?
The single thing that took my golf game from the upper 90s to the lower 70s was seeing myself swing. My friend brought a video recorder to the driving range two times and my game has never been the same. Seeing myself from the other side allowed me to see what so many people were telling me I was doing that I could not see. I saw how crooked I brought the club back, I swore it was straight. I saw how my feet and shoulders were not aligned when I was certain they were. Even how I gripped the club escaped me, when I saw myself, it just all came together. This is why we want to see ourselves from the other side; because from our own perspective, we have blind spots. These spots are in our character, our means of communication, and in our ability to parent and be in loving relationships. We cannot progress just looking at ourselves from our own point of view, we need to see the other side of us.
There are two perspectives that I have been exposed to regarding the ability to see ourselves from the other side. The first is the person who says, ‘I don’t care what is there, I have a job to do and I am going to get it accomplished.’ First let me just say, this person is not a leader. They might be a darn good manager or project manager who executes well, but they are not a leader. One of the characteristics of a great leader is self-reflection; the ability to look at yourself and understand how that person impacts the world around them.
The second person opens the door for feedback and periodically asks for it. This person wants to grow, they want to understand their impact as a leader. This is not a sign of insecurity or lack of ability to lead; on the contrary, a leader who does not open the door for feedback is simply trying to get something done versus trying to make a difference.
This is going to take courage, so let’s gird up and start taking some steps. Ask your spouse when you get home tonight, what is it like on the other side of me? Ask your closest friend at work, ask your immediate supervisor, ask a peer, ask a different supervisor, ask the person at the front desk. They may not all give you input, but some will. Take that input and apply it to your life as a leader. As I was considering this, I wonder if someone in a very high level position would do this. I wonder if Trump of Hillary would do this. The higher you go, the harder it is to find people you trust to give you input on what it’s like on the other side of you. Start now with the people around you now so when you grow in your career, you will have people who knew you when. The higher you go, the more careful you have to be because motives get involved and sadly, not everyone wants to see you grow. Start now with the people around you. Become that person who went to the other side. The one who saw themselves from the other side and gained the perspective necessary to become a real leader who can make a difference.