April 3, 2012

The Difference Between Opinion & Perspective

I had an interesting conversation the other day about the varying opinions that anyone in leadership inevitably faces. Sometimes, literally every position on an issue or idea is represented in a group, & sometimes positions you didn't think existed are represented! So how do you know which opinions are more worthy of your time & recognition? After all, a leader can't act on every opinion that is expressed, much less the ones that are never voiced. One of the most effective ideas I've stumbled across (and believe me I stumbled onto it) is to draw a distinction between people who have an opinion & people who have perspective. It may sound like I'm splitting hairs, but there's something to this.

Think about it. Everybody has opinions. Even if it's a topic that we haven't given a lot of thought to, if someone asks what we think, we'll give our opinion on it. There's nothing necessarily wrong with it. It's just how we are. However, perspective requires something more than just talking about what we think.

Perspective Requires Investment.

People with opinions "think". People with perspective "know". People with perspective have invested themselves into something enough that their opinion is actually based on experience. You don't have to have that in order to form an opinion. There's nothing wrong with having an opinion & sometimes there's nothing wrong with voicing it, but the best opinions are really built on having a realistic perspective of the situation. Investment leads to perspective which leads to discernment.

So the next time you're confronted with a bunch of "opinions", try to figure out which opinion is really perspective, & that's easy. Simply ask, "Is this person invested?" Are they invested in you? Are they invested in the ministry? Are they invested in the business? Whatever the issue is, are they really invested? Not merely emotionally invested, but have they put in some sweat equity & time equity? Have they invested themselves into it?