This experience reminded me of an exercise I ran recently as part of a leadership programme, where the question top of mind was “how do you get people who don’t report into you to do what you want them to do?”.
The answer lay in changing the question. In choosing to set aside, for one moment, our agenda, our perspective and interests and deciding to take on board other people’s point of view, we are far more able to listen and connect with where they are coming from – and therefore find a solution that suits us both.
I likened this to a mountain range, where to understand another’s viewpoint, we need to climb down from our own summit, take off our walking boots, walk across the valley floor to the other person’s mountain, climb up to their summit in their boots and look out at the view from there.
This ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes – walk a mile in their shoes – is eloquently illustrated in this video link of a day in the life of a US hospital, where the camera shows the inner lives of the people passing through, and the emotions playing through their minds on a daily basis.
In a continuously changing world, the ability to move between mountains and not only see, but respect what others see, is an increasingly valuable skill to have.