The same level of thinking

My friend Sam brought these curious creatures into the office the other day – they were so intriguing we decided to give them a breath of fresh air and take them out into the Spring sunshine.

Colourful creaturesPhoto by @SarahLouJackson

Colourful creatures
Photo by @SarahLouJackson

As we crouched down by the riverbank, attracting many a strange look from passers-by, I couldn’t decide which one I liked best. The hedgehog was cute, but then the elephant had its endearing qualities. Or what about the toucan?

I straightened up for another look.

Strange little menPhoto by @SarahLouJackson

Strange little men
Photo by @SarahLouJackson

The animals had disappeared and been replaced by some rather curious-looking little men with some impressive facial hair!

These seemingly-simple trinkets were a perfect example of the impact of changing perspective. From one angle, they were adorable animals – from another, beardy blokes. When I changed the way I looked at the models, the way they looked changed.

That’s certainly true in the physical world – can the same be applied to the mental world? Einstein thought so –

‘Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.’

We’ve probably all been there. We’re thrashing away at a problem – whether it’s numbers on a spreadsheet that just won’t add up, a logistical issue of how to get several people from different locations to the same place at the same time or how to fit all those cases into the back of the car when we’re setting off on holiday – and along comes someone else, takes one look at the matter in hand and casually suggests the perfect solution. How? Because they didn’t see it in the same way as we do.

Changing perspective is an issue which often crops up in sessions with my coaching clients. Here are some of the solutions my clients have generated: perhaps one of them will work for you.

Step away

There’s a temptation to battle on through the matter at hand until we solve it. As we do this, it can be very difficult to try another approach – we tend to keep trying the same thing again and again. You know what they say – ‘if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got’. Take a break. Go and have a cuppa. Put your coat on and head outside for a few minutes. Do a different task for 20 minutes. Have a chat with a colleague. Do whatever it takes to remove you from the problem for long enough for your mind to refresh itself before you come back to it.

Stakeholder analysis

This sounds complicated but it doesn’t have to be. Take a sheet of paper and list your key stakeholders – it might include your manager, your team, your clients, other departments. What do they expect from you? What do you expect from them? Doing this will help you to see the issue from their perspective and might just give you the insight you need to devise a win-win solution.

Talk to someone else

A colleague or friend may have the same opinion as you or perhaps her opinion differs. Either way, she will definitely have her own perspective. A colleague with different experience will approach the subject from his perspective, thus shedding new light on it. We see brainstorming as a useful part of the creative process – we can use it to creatively solve problems too.

Those are just three ideas: I’m sure you have some of your own.

Today’s pebble for you to consider:

How will you change your perspective today?

I’d love to hear from you,


ps if you’d like to talk with someone completely objective to help you change your perspective, why not email me to see how we could work together?

Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

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6 Responses to The same level of thinking

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