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The Power of Perspective

A man was travelling on the tube in London with his two young children. The kids were making a lot of noise, shouting at each other and annoying other passengers while the man just sat there, seemingly completely disengaged. As you can imagine, the other passengers started to get more and more annoyed, wondering why he wasn’t in control of his kids. Raised eyebrows, sighs and tuts continued until one passenger broke from the ranks and confronted the man. She asked him “why don’t you do something to control your children?”

The man slowly looked up and responded: “I’m so sorry but I’m in shock and so are the kids. We’ve just come back from the hospital where my wife has died suddenly”. The lady who confronted him felt terrible, apologised and sat back down.

Ask yourself: “what am I missing here?”

It’s very easy to believe that what we are seeing is all there is. And yet one additional piece of information can change our perspective completely.

So if we are puzzled by a response we weren’t expecting or feel annoyed by the behaviours of others around us maybe the most valuable question we can ask ourselves is “what is it that I am missing here?”

Adapted from a similar story recounted in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.