How to challenge your perspective of 'you' - Michelle Gibbings

Recently I started watching the Netflix series, The Crown, which if you haven’t watched before is a historical drama series centring around the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

There’s no doubt that many aspects are dramatiSed to make it good TV watching. Regardless it provides an interesting and alternative perspective on their life and what leads people to do what they do and the choices they make.

Perspective – it’s an interesting concept.

Our perspective is something we rely on every day; often with little thought about the impact it is having on the choices we make. Our perspective on ourselves, others and events ultimately shapes our thoughts, actions and reactions.

Holding a perspective doesn’t mean it is right, nor is it necessarily wrong. It’s merely a point of view, which means that being open to changing is important, which isn’t easy.

The hardest perspectives to change are those you hold about yourself, and that’s impossible to do if you don’t first seek to understand yourself.

Self-awareness, which Daniel Goleman defines as “knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions”, is central to this.

When you are self-aware you pay attention to how you are feeling at any given moment and you understand what drives your thought processes and actions. You also recognise that knowing oneself is a life-long process, and consequently, you need to be open to accepting feedback from others.

This last piece is crucial because it’s often hard to undertake a realistic, subjective and non-biased assessment of ourselves, how we are seen and our impact on others.

Adam Grant, an American psychologist from the Wharton School recounts that there are sixteen studies, involving thousands of people at work, which have shown that people’s co-workers are better than they are at recognising how their personality will affect their job performance.

If you want to read more on this, his recent article in The Atlantic is worth reading.

It was the esteemed professor of psychology at Harvard University, Ellen Langer, who said ““In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves.”

To find that perspective however, we often need to be prepared to shift the lens through which we see the world and our place in it.

Here’s a couple of tips to get your lens shifting:

  • Seek regular feedback from people you trust – feedback is important and you need to seek it out from people you know will challenge you, and provide it from a place of good intent
  • Be open to different ideas and perspectives – when you hear an idea you don’t like, be curious as to why you don’t like it.  Does the idea challenge a perspective of yours?  Does it make you think differently in some way?
  • Understand your trigger points – notice when you feel uncomfortable or when you start to feel anxious, alert or in a different state.  What has triggered this feeling or emotional response?  It is a comment, person or event?  Are your normally triggered in this way?  If so, why is that?
  • Be conscious about the choices you make – when making a decision, stop and reflect on the decision.  Is it being made consciously or is it being driven by the automatic part of the brain?
  • Embrace diversity of thought and ideas – seek out people with different backgrounds and ideas as they will open your eyes to different perspectives and experiences

And remember, your perspective isn’t necessarily a reality.


Getting you ready for tomorrow, today. 

Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’.  For more information: or contact 

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