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The other day, my wife and I were having a conversation with some friends who are about to have their first child.

At the time of the conversation, our children were seven and almost five years old.

We were trying to think back to when we first had our own children, and trying to offer some perspective on certain topics.

One of them was the idea that traveling on a plane is easiest when your child is less than six months old.

The conversation eventually wrapped up, yet some part of me knew that it hadn't fully resonated.

I began to wonder why.

This led me to think about the idea of perspective.

Here's the question I'd like to explore:

Can someone else truly ever give you perspective, or is it something you have to get by yourself?

I'm sure you have asked someone for their perspective on something at some point in your life.

You may have even been in a situation where you're listening to someone offer a perspective on something, and then you've been able to relate it back to your life.

I am a huge fan of perspective taking. Which is the idea of either imagining different perspectives or proactively asking others for perspective on something.

To begin our journey into the question I've highlighted, let's get a definition. A simple one:

Perspective is a point of view.

Now let's combine this with a basic understanding of how we understand things. Two ways:

With our heads—logically.

With our hearts—emotionally.

Now let's go back to the question:

Can someone else truly ever give you perspective, or is it something you have to get by yourself?

I'm going to argue that at most, someone can only give us perspective that we can understand with our heads.

To get a complete understanding—which means involving our hearts too—we have to do the work on our own.

A Hike Through the Jungle: A Short Analogy on Perspective

Imagine there's a small mountain near to where you live, which has a tricky and rewarding hike to the top.

At the top, there's a lookout, and you've heard the views are just fantastic.

The hike itself is set through a relatively dense jungle. The hiking path is clear, but not always easy to navigate.

In fact, there are some points along the hike, that are very difficult to navigate.

Suppose one day, I decide to hike it with a partner.

It takes a while, but we get through it together. The views are absolutely breathtaking.

Another day, you come to me and tell me that you're planning on hiking this mountain, and you'd like my perspective on what it was like.

I tell you there are certainly some challenging moments, and once you get through them and reach the top, it's as if none of those moments really mattered.

Now—dear reader—imagine for a moment, that you have heard my perspective, and you're about to climb this mountain.

The logical part of you understands that when you reach the top, there will be a view. A very good one apparently.

The thing is, to get there you literally have to be engulfed by a jungle.

In fact, there'll be times when all you can see—your entire world—will be jungle.

During these times specifically, my perspective will be almost meaningless because it does not speak to your current reality.

Do you see the challenge with perspective now?

I can explain every possible thing about the view from the top of the mountain, and until you climb it yourself, you simply will not be able to share my point of view.


True perspective cannot be given, it must be earned.

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