Monday, May 7, 2007

Secret 3: Get Perspective

Last week I spoke about taking responsibility – this week follows on in a similar vein.

I often fondly remember a story I was told when I first got into real estate. That was of two salespeople sent to the depths of Africa to sell shoes. One salesperson phoned home after a week and said “it’s useless – I can’t sell shoes here, nobody wears shoes!” He then demanded to come home.

The other sales person phoned home excitedly after a week saying “This is unreal! Send me more stock immediately, I’ve got a captive market here – nobody wears shoes!”

Now of course this is exactly the same situation – but two very different perspectives on it.

I could have looked at my childhood and said that because my parents had some dealings with some disreputable people which lead to some hard times financially that I should never go into business – after all look at what happened to them. Instead I chose to say, what other young person (I was 15 when I started my first business) knows what works in small business and what doesn’t – what a great real life education I’ve had.

I find I get perspective shifts when I’m not expecting them. I delivered three speaking presentations last week. The first in front of 400 people, the last in front of about 50. It was however the second presentation – a speaker showcase which filled me with the most dread.

I was as nervous as I can remember being before going on stage. The audience wasn’t anywhere near 400 people but there were people in the audience that I really respected, other speakers who were also showcasing their work. The fact that I knew I was going to be watched by two of these speakers in particular, people whose work I admire and look up to hugely, was what brought out my nerves.

As I sat waiting my turn to go second in the lineup of four speakers biting what little fingernails I had left I was suddenly given the gift of a change in perspective by the first speaker.

The first speaker – Walter Mikac - was not someone I had worked with or heard speak before, but he was someone who took me on an amazing emotional journey that day.

As all Tasmanians know on the 28th of April, 1996 our state experienced a very dark day. By the end of that day 35 people lay massacred at Port Arthur in the state’s South. Walter Mikac lost his wife and both his 3 and 6 year old daughters that day. Most of us will never experience anything of that magnitude in our lives, I know I certainly haven’t.

As I sat in the audience and watched Walter share his story – something which will obviously always remain very personal and very painful to him I was given a perspective shift.

Firstly – when I think I’m having a bad day – it’s almost definitely an amazing day, I just don’t realise it. When I think of Walter – I’ll realise it.

Secondly – I had to ask myself why was Walter sharing his story given the obvious emotion. He explained why and shared his message of courage and turning despair into positive action. A message all of us could benefit from and one I was very glad to receive that day.

Walter Mikac has taken an experience so unnecessarily brutal and painful and he’s turned it around so that despite the pain, he’s made positive action from the experience. Walter was instrumental in lobbying for the tighter gun laws in Tasmania we now have and he set up a foundation - the Alannah and Madeline Foundation (in the names of his two young daughters) which has gone on to do amazing work with young people.

Ten minutes into Walter’s presentation my nerves were gone. My perspective had shifted. I was simply sitting there in the audience waiting to share my story too – for reasons exactly the same as Walter’s. I had a message I thought the audience could benefit and learn from and in presenting it I would also learn from the experience. Despite my nerves – this was a great day and I just needed to realise that. If I had let my fears control me that day and had let my mind wander to simply preparing for my talk instead of listening to Walter’s – think of the valuable life lesson I would have missed out on.

You have an amazing opportunity to see today and every day for what a great days they are. Whether you chose to do so or not is up to you.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments


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