The Skinny

Happy New Fiscal Year! As we plan for a new year, what do we see when looking to the future? To find out, let’s do a fun little exercise.


Please look at the below images and write down the first thing you notice.


1.  Glass of water            2.  Sun through clouds                    3. Fish

Ok. Are you ready?

Image 1 – Did you see the glass as half full or half empty? Was your focus on the fact that the glass is clear or that it is round? Maybe you were noticing the surface of the water or the background.

Image 2 – Did you first notice the clouds, the rays of sunlight, the blue sky, or the “silver lining”?

Image 3 – Did you focus on the similarities between the fish or the differences? Maybe you first noticed the water, the bowl, or the shadow the bowl made.

Now try focusing on a different aspect of each image.

How did what you focused on affect your opinion? Did it change how you felt or what you perceived to be the message being conveyed in the image? Were you surprised by how many ways there were to view each image?

There aren’t any right or wrong answers to these questions. As far as I know, there has never been a situation that has been viewed the same way by 100% of the people looking at it. Variety and diversity in perspectives is not the exception but the rule.   Moreover, variety and diversity are key to any successful team or endeavor. When all views are considered, we tend to make better decisions.

Hopefully, the above exercise gives each of us some insight into the choices we make when seeing something for the first time.   Do we naturally and consistently try to see things from more than one viewpoint or just go with our first impression? Do we assume that our perspective is the only right choice? Are we hurt or offended when others have a different point of view? Do we assume someone has negative intentions when they don’t agree with us?

Our choices shape our perspective, our opinions, and our feelings about what we see.   These choices, in turn, shape our future decisions.   It can also affect how well we work together as a team.   Do we celebrate each other’s uniqueness or expect others to be just like us?  

Choice is the superpower that everyone has. We choose what we focus on, what we think and how we feel about that perspective. No one can force us to feel or think anything.   Blindly agreeing with someone else is still a choice, a choice to not choose for oneself.

As you look forward to this next year, what do you see? Do you see obstacles or possibilities? If the future fills you with dread or you hate the view, try choosing a different perspective. The power to change the focus is yours.

Elizabeth Edwards

Department Administrator

Here are some great quotes about the power of choice:

Here are some great quotes about point of view: