This article was originally published by Brien Dunphy on LinkedIn.
The higher your perspective the slower things move.
This is a scientific fact that was never more evident to me than when I was last on a plane. The ground appeared to be moving at a snail’s pace. Conversely, when I travel by train it looks like everything is moving too fast for me to see clearly. It feels like the train is moving faster than the plane… spoiler alert, it’s not.
This is the scientific phenomenon of Motion Parallax. This phenomenon states that objects moving at a constant speed will appear to move faster if they are closer than they would if they were at a greater distance. I know that if I were flying the same speed at a lower altitude, I would feel like I am moving at 500 mph. This is because we are seeing individual aspects of the landscape instead of large portions of it.
But this perspective effect applies not only to airplanes, it applies to life as well. Our perspective easily becomes so ground-level that we feel like life is moving at 10,000 mph. In those moments it is incredibly difficult to make quality decisions. Whether we are struggling in our careers, dealing with strained relationships, or handling the myriad of ethical quandaries thrown at us in life; the closer we are to a situation, the more complex it seems.
In those overwhelming moments, the first thing we must do is slow down our brains so we can gather the necessary information to respond in the best way. This requires we change the vantage point/perspective from which we are viewing the circumstance or situation. We need the airplane view as opposed to the train view.
It is imperative to pause and step back to gain a different perspective. It means seeing each situation and challenge as a small part of a much bigger jigsaw puzzle that is career or life: gaining a “higher perspective”' instead of just seeing what's coming at us daily. When we do so we can equip ourselves with clearer heads, allowing space for better judgment and smarter decision-making in even the most stressful of moments.
As we enter a new year, I encourage you to take a step back and reflect on what worked and what didn’t last year. Picture yourself at 36,000 feet and reflect on the pieces of your personal puzzle and how they fit into the larger image of the life you are building. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind, but taking a higher view can help you make more informed decisions about how you want to move forward into the next year.
Take time to pause and ask yourself, “What are my values? What are my goals? What do I want to accomplish in the long term and in the short term? Are my short-term goals serving my long-term goals?“ Consider how the plans you have for next year fit into your personal puzzle.
The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect and asking yourself these questions will enable you to gain clarity on what is truly important for you to achieve and aspire to away from the distractions (and speed) of everyday life. By viewing your life, your business and your everyday reality from a higher vantage point (and different speed), you are able to gain clarity around what matters most and eliminate what is not worth pursuing.
Zoom out to zoom in. You may just find that the blurry shapes and colors that you can’t make out as you ride that train, are really amazing buildings and fields when seen from 36,000 miles above.