Our theme this week has been Perspective. As I was preparing to write this post, I thought, “Hmm. I wrote a post a few years ago about perspective.”

As I looked back through my posts, I found that I wrote the original post in 2019. Then I tweaked it and created an updated version of it in 2021.

Now I’m tweaking it again in 2023. Maybe every two years I will return to this subject!

In some ways, that would make sense. It would also be okay for me to do that.

That’s because our perspective is based on how we see things.

Every couple of years or so, there is a good chance that your perspective will shift somewhat.

You will have been exposed to new information, learned new things, or gone through some type of transformation. Also, pretty much everything else in the world will have done that, too.

So, your perspective on things will have changed.

This doesn’t mean that your bedrock standards and values will have necessarily changed. What you hold dear to you, your core beliefs on life probably won’t have changed.

But how you view many elements of life will have changed.

And then, because your view of those things has changed, those things themselves will have changed.

I don’t mean that the physical makeup of something will have changed. I just mean that because your perspective on it has changed, then that means it is now different.

You have changed it because your view of it has changed.

How We See It

On Episode 154 of my Great Quotes for Coaches podcast this past Monday, I discussed nine different quotes that dealt with perspective.

One, by Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, addressed the concept I just spoke of. He said, “We must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.”

Exactly what I was just saying!

Another quote by John Lubbock, an English banker, politician, philanthropist, & scientist in the 19th century touched on the concept, too. “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”

And Spanish playwright, Pedro Calderon de la Barca, saw it just a little differently when he said, “In this treacherous world/Nothing is the truth nor a lie./Everything depends on the color/Of the crystal through which one sees it.”

Things are the way they are because of how we see them—as Covey put it, the lens through which we view them.

Self-help counselor, Dr. Wayne Dwyer, nailed that concept and got really specific about this when he said, “Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”

The world that those two different types of people live in is the exact same world. It’s just that their perspectives and the way they see the world are different. So, their worlds are different.

Be Careful with Your Perspective

One problem with perspective is that if we aren’t careful, our perspective can skew our reality. More importantly, it can skew what we believe is other people’s realities.

I see a couple driving around in a Mercedes and think, “Must be nice. If I only made the kind of money they make…”

Yet, I have no idea how much they make or what they do for a living, and I have no idea how hard or easy of a life they have.

I just have my perception of what I think their reality is, and I make all kinds of assumptions about it, just because of the car they drive.

This is how stereotypes of people affect our thinking. We put someone into a certain class of people based on a stereotype of our perspective of what we think their life is like.

However, we ultimately have no idea what their life is like. We are not them.

We can no more understand all that they are going through than they can understand all that we are going through.

Get to Know Your Students/Athletes

It is critical that teachers and coaches understand this concept of perspective.

We teach and coach young people. These young people come to us from all walks of life, all kinds of circumstances, with all kinds of positives and negatives happening to them.

Some of them are carrying around a lot of heavy baggage, much of which they had no part in creating. They just happened to be born into some tough stuff.

Others are carrying around very little baggage, and life has gone fairly smoothly for them. They are fairly happy with their circumstances and the elements surrounding their lives.

Most people fall somewhere in between, with varying degrees of baggage.

However, no matter where they fall, we ultimately do not know their situation. For us to project our perspective onto their lives and assume things about them is not fair at all.

We must be careful not to make judgments about our kids, their parents, staff members, and anyone else we come in contact with without knowing as much as we can about them and their situation.

This requires us to establish positive, open relationships with these people. We must get to know the people who we lead and who we work with.

I cannot just focus on my students as students and my players as players. I must focus on them as people.

The more I come to understand them, the better I can serve them.

That must be a leader’s guiding force.

It’s About Our Kids, Not Us

Teachers and coaches must also understand perspective in another way. We must keep our job and our role in people’s lives in perspective.

We cannot take ourselves too seriously. This is not about us; it is about the young people we lead.

We must also understand that the vehicle by which we work with them is a school subject or a sport. It is young people sitting in classrooms and playing games.

When we take ourselves and our importance in the world too seriously, we lose perspective.

For coaches, this is one of the few times that I consider the phrase, “It’s only a game,” appropriate. The playing of games portion of our jobs is something we need to take less seriously.

I am not saying the games, preparing for them, and competing in them are not important; however, those are not the most important facets of what we do.

At the same time, we must take our jobs and our roles as leaders of young people extremely seriously.

We are trying to help young people learn all kinds of things about life while providing them the opportunity to have a positive experience through the classroom and through sport.

The life lessons that kids learn from us will inform so much of who they become.

That is an extremely important role for teachers and coaches, and we must take it very seriously.

For coaches in particular, this is where we cannot accept the idea that “It’s only a game.” What we are doing for kids is so much more than a game, and we must treat it with the importance that it deserves.

Be someone who keeps his or her perspective on what it is that you are doing as a teacher and coach – instilling in children the life lessons necessary for them to grow up and live positive, productive lives.

Be a Positive Role Model for your kids by modeling positivity.

When they see and feel positivity around them, it can rub off on them and instill positivity in them. The more they see it, the more they become it. The more they become it, the more they start to feel control over their own lives, their own worlds.

As American businessman, Harvey Mackay said, “When you wake up every day, you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It’s all a matter of perspective.”