Living a Compelling Story

A blog by Summer Miller, a growing leader and servant.

How do you gain perspective?


In the last few posts, I’ve taken a look at self-awareness and the value of embracing, understanding, and leveraging our emotions to be more effective as leaders and as people. There’s another aspect of self-awareness that has made a significant impact on me as a leader…


Perspective…seeing yourself and all you do as attached to meaning…seeing how you bring meaning, good-bad-questionable, into every situation…seeing how your view of yourself can differ from how others see you.

I remember when I first realized that even my silence in a meeting meant something to others. I received feedback early in my management career that my tendency to observe the situation and remain silent could be perceived as disengagement. It left people wondering where I stood on the issues, and what I thought about them as people. From my perspective, I was just giving people a chance to talk that enjoyed talking more than I did. I chalked it up to preference more than anything.

In truth, I’m a processor, often thinking about ways to apply what I am learning. As a leader it was important for me to learn to be self-aware in this area. To better understand and align with the perspective with others, I started asking questions of the group that I was only asking myself previously. I soon realized that thoughtful questions provide value just as much as new ideas. When I would think of something to contribute after the meeting, I started to seek out peers to collaborate on ideas. My peer team of managers eventually began to see me as more engaged, and even as a thought leader!

Here’s one more thing that needed to happen…

Since I knew that I wouldn’t see everything clearly on my own, I needed to find a way to broaden my perspective. The only way to balance my view with the perspective of others was to ask for help. I needed to ask for feedback and accountability from those that I trusted – those that would tell me the honest and sometimes-hard-to-hear truth.

Over the years, my managers, peers, and co-workers have helped me to maintain balanced perspective. Their honesty has made me a better leader.

How do you gain perspective?


Author: Summer Miller

I'm a mom, a wife, a servant, a musician, a writer, a leader, a follower, and a friend.

5 thoughts on “How do you gain perspective?

  1. Loved this post! As a woman, in the past I’ve often been seen as being “emotional” even when I wasn’t. It has taken me years to get perspective; to be self aware and as you say balance my view with the perspective of others. I have a very expressive face and often my feelings are exposed for the world to see. Adjusting my body language as well as the words and other non-verbal cues has helped me significantly in influencing others. I too asked questions of my co-workers etc. to get to this stage. I would be interested to know how you got your co-workers to trust you and open up. For me it was difficult to get real honest feedback at first.

    • Alesandra, thanks so much for the comment! You bring up a great question. For me, the key to building trust with my co-workers has been to be more focused on serving them than on serving my own interests. This is not an easy thing to do! Here are some areas of focus that helped me:

      –Listen to and use their language – To show their voice matters, I am very purposeful in using their words and asking them to dig deeper into something I’ve heard them say.
      –Share with them the insights I am gaining from our collaboration and how I’m using them. This shows them that I trust their leading and partnership, and helps them to open up and trust me more as well.
      –Ask them for feedback on how I can support them more, better or differently than I am. — these conversations become more and more honest over time. The fact that I consistently ask these questions communicates my commitment to them and their success.

      I hope this helps!

      • It does thanks. I did the first, listen and use their language, and I asked them how I could support them more, but your second point is new. It simply never occurred to me that they would like to hear the insights of how their feedback is helping me. Will definitely be putting that in place! Thanks again!

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