Perspective is the key to finding Gold

We all exist in the same world.  We create different opportunities however.  We are looking at the same things but we are seeing them from different perspectives.  This is why some people find gold where others have only found rubbish.

This idea has been expressed in a variety of different ways:

  • one man’s trash is another mans treasure
  • when life deals you lemons,  make lemonade
  • etc

A lot of these sayings don’t really get to the really powerful aspect of this concept however.  It’s not just about thinking positively.  It’s not just about looking at things differently.  It’s about looking at things properly.

It is common behaviour to look at things as a static picture.  Often it is better to look at things in term of movement,  in particular forwards movement.

Let’s look at an example.

I have a bunch of students in my class.  At the end of the year I produce a report which states how well the students are doing.  I do this by providing a total of the marks for each student for all the assessments.  Now an observer may look at my class and tell which students are better than others and so on.

To me this information is irrelevant and bordering on useless.  All it does is tell me how well a student is doing at the particular point in time the assessments were done.  If I want to make use of this data it will be at some point in the future (it has to be unless you can stop time or turn it backwards).  Considering we are all in a constant state of change (and normally for the better) this information will always be out of date.

A better way to organise this would be to provide a chronological view of the assessments and also how they performed in previous years and in other subjects.  Now I can see trends and also relationships.  ie,  is Jonny currently in the middle of the class but improving rapidly?  Is Susie improving in science and mathematics based subjects but stagnating or going backwards in English based subjects?  Does this indicate where her motivations lie and can we use this to change our approach to helping her learn?

The first approach tends to be favoured as it is easy to produce and easy to understand.  It provides little valuable information however.  The second approach is more valuable as it allows us to predict the future more accurately.

It is common behaviour to look at what features a product has.  Often it is better to look at what service or exerience the product can deliver.

Let’s look at an example.

I wish to purchase a stereo.  I walk into a store and there are several options.  How am I going to evaluate which one is the best one for me?

One way is to look at what features the products have.  The problem with this is that it is looking backwards. The focus is on the product. When taking this approach people tend to associate more features with a better product.  You will walk away with a product that has many features.  Then you will find that those features make it hard to use,  degrade the sound quality etc.

Another way is to look at what experience it can deliver for you.  In this way you are now looking forwards.  The focus is on you. When taking this approach you will make statements such as “I want great sound” and “I want it to be easy to use”.  You will walk away with a product that most likely has few features but produces great sound and is effortless to use.

The first approach is easier as it is making comparisons in a quantitative way.  It is easy to compare numbers and lists.  The problem is you are actually seeking an experience and that it a qualitative thing.  In order to get the best product we must compare them from a qualitative approach.

The above mentioned habits form for a variety of reasons.  The main ones I believe are that we are busy,  that we are lazy and that we often don’t ask ourselves “is there a better way?”.

We are constantly categorising everything we are exposed to in our lives.  We have to.  It is the only way we can process and make use of the constant tidal wave of information that is entering our mind through our senses.  What you have to do is create a habit of categorising all of this in more useful and effective ways.  This will allow you to see the gold that everyone else misses.

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2 Responses to “Perspective is the key to finding Gold”


  1. 1 tylerdouglasporter March 8, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Great post! I believe most of us can use this advice. I just wish more people would think this way. 🙂

  2. 2 Ryan March 8, 2010 at 6:27 am

    I’m glad you found it useful. I think it is a problem we are always going to face. Technology however is providing the means to make it better. I think we are still a few generations away from having the ability to effortlessly reorganise the data into useful knowledge but it is definitely coming. I’m rather excited about where I think we’re headed.


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