Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keep Perspective

Each year Beloit College publishes its Class of XXXX mindset list.  This list is a compilation of the perspectives that each incoming freshman class has.  It is a very intriguing look at how the world we live in has changed over the preceding 18 years.

This morning I had an interesting conversation with my wife on the way to work.  She teaches 7th grade science and raised a very interesting perspective to me.  This years sixth and seventh graders have not known a world where global terrorism has not been a concern.  They don't know about the events leading up to the attacks of 9/11.  The world we live in has changed so much over the past 12 years.

Think about your work.  Are you able to keep perspective of the events going on around you?  It is difficult to do.  Most times, even as professionals, we are so focused on making the decision, we forget about all of the events leading up to the current situation.  We think that every experience we have is one that no one else has been through before.  That simply isn't the case.  We forget that experience is the catalyst for innovation.  Understanding that every situation is a result of a series of decisions and events that brought us to the here and now is very important. 

Keeping perspective on ones mindset allows teams to grow, products to be launched, and businesses to grow and expand.  Think about it for a moment.  Could Benjamin Franklin have developed a cellular telephone?  No chance!  Remember, experience is the catalyst for innovation.  Without Franklin's discovery of electricity, experiences leading to the development of the cellular phone would not have been possible.  For Franklin and his contemporaries, it would have been inconceivable to imagine that some could be walking down the street in Boston, and speaking to someone in Philadelphia or London.  A series of discoveries, experiences, and innovation led to the world we know today.

My boys may not know or understand that when I grew up, there were essentially 3 networks on TV and everyone watched the 6:00 local news, and then the 7:00 national news.  Pong was a cool video game.  Red Dawn was a real concern.  The thought of my beloved Red Sox winning a World Series was a pipe dream, let alone two World Series in three years.  Automatic windows on a car were a luxury.  Going to an Apple store, meant work at the orchard.

Their perspective is that they have communication available at the speed of thought.  Apps are a way of life.  Terrorism is not limited to countries that we just read about. 

Keep perspective of how you got to where you are.  Take time to be self reflective and know that you can change your course if you so choose.  Every morning the sun rises and new beginnings are born.  Take calculated risks and blaze your trail.  Easier said than done, but we crawled before we walked, and walked before we were able to run, and ran before we were able to soar.  Take the first step today.


  1. Experience is the catalyst for innovation...simple and brilliant. Too often, today, we are urged to put the past behind us and move ahead. That's good for some things, but you are right in that it often involves losing perspective.

  2. Terrific post Mark. It is something I have thought of. The disconnect of perspective is all around us. I have 2 nieces who do nothing BUT text on their cell phones. Call them? You won't hear back. Text them? The response is as fast as if you were having a face to face with them.

    I do agree with Jacquie in that sometimes it is better to let go of the past. Stay in the present. Even the future isn't a promise. I like something Eckhart Tolle said, "Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now."

    Over from LinkedIn group BHB

  3. Such a thoughtful post. At my stage of life, I try to live every day to the fullest. My future is now. Every day is a new beginning. To quote John Lennon, Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."

  4. Great post. I was just explaining to my kids about the three channels that used to be the only channels. It seems so unreal, even to me.

    It's amazing what you discover about yourself when you look back at the things that shaped you. Our culture works in the same way, but we rarely reflect collectively.

  5. Funny, when I was in high school, I remember saying we are a generation who has not seen war. I suppose that's why we study history - to know war and peace. Love the article to remember humanity's past. Of course, my hubby likes to say, history was written by the winners.

  6. Agree with you and am able to analyze whatever happens from a global perspective. Understand fully why 9/11 happened and could happen again, for instance.

    About Benjamin Franklin, would not be surprised if he could imagine a lot of what we have today. He was an exceptionally intelligent man. Very few people that are considered brilliant today are anywhere near as bright as he was.

  7. I always found it so hard to get students to entertain other perspectives. Studying literature is great for that, but when all the focus on multiple point tests, it can be very difficult indeed to get students to entertain other mindsets, let alone be pulled away from social media and cell phones. Information is so disposable now.

  8. Every day is an opportunity. on 9/11 my son woke up late which saved his life. He worked at the Trade Center in NYC. I look at everyday as a blessing.

    I do see a change in children today. I am a baby boomer, and we were more of a creative age. Many of us went on to be entrepreneurs. We had to think for ourselves. Today parents do all the thinking for their children and do not allow them to be creative. I think the world of technology is great but when there is an app for everything, why create. Recently there was an interview on TV of college students graduating from Princeton. They were asked what were their plans when they graduated. Many of them said, my parents will give us the direction we should go. I know that apps and all the things in the world are here to stay, but the mind is a great tool that needs to be challenged. When I was a child we were sent outside and told to come be back by dark. We had to come up with creative things to keep us busy. Today children are taken everywhere to play sports, dance class, after school activities are just sit in front of the TV playing video games. Yes my past has me to what I am today. I am so glad I grow up in the era that I did.

  9. It is amazing how much everything has changed. You tend to forget this until a child says something that makes you think, that is right, they have never seen one of those.
    I love your perspective on this :)