An old story about blind men and an elephant goes like this: One day, an elephant was passing through a forest.
All of the local villagers were delighted to see the huge animal, as they had never seen such an animal in their town before.
The excited villagers rushed out of their homes to see the elephant. They were all equally excited about this animal, but for different reasons.
The blind men were quite excited about the elephant, too.They felt that the elephant was quite large.
The first blind man reached out to touch the elephant’s side, and he said, “It’s so smooth and round. It feels like a large ball.” The second blind man reached out to touch the elephant’s leg, and he said, “It’s so smooth and round. It feels like a large cylinder.”
The third blind man reached out to touch the elephant’s ear, and he said, “It’s so smooth and round. It feels like a large fan.”
Finally, the fourth blind man reached out to touch the elephant’s tail, and he said, “It’s so smooth and round. It feels like a large rope.”
The story of blind men has been told for centuries.
The blind men and the elephant refers to the idea that people can look at the same situation or person and have completely different viewpoints.
Each of these men had a different perspective on the elephant, even though they were all trying to understand the same thing.
There are many different versions of this story, but the underlying concept remains the same in each of them. Along with being retold more than once, this story has also been analyzed in many different ways.
There are three types of people in the world.
Those who have glanced at the elephant, those who have looked at in the eye, and those who have reached out and touched just one side of an elephant.
Perspective is everything in life. Your perception and realities drive your decision-making, thinking patterns, and actions.
Perspective is the difference between seeing things and seeing them in a particular way. Your perspective defines your outlook and your understanding of the world around you.
When you think about it, there is no such thing as ‘the whole truth’.
Instead, there are many different realities.
Daniel Schmachtenberger, a social philosopher, explains it beautifully, “The ability to take multiple perspectives — to see the truth in them and seam them together into something that isn’t a perspective (a trans-perspective capacity to hold the relationships between many perspectives in a way that can inform our choice-making) — is fundamental to navigating reality well.”
Everyone has their point of view and their own outlook on life. We all have our realities and live in our worlds.
Our reality is made up of our experiences, our point of view, and how we perceive the world or our personal sphere.
It is how we interpret the world and our sphere of influence. Our point of view defines the way we see the world, how we react to it, how we deal with it and how we respond to it.
It is the lens through which we see our reality.
Our sphere of influence defines the sphere in which we carry out our activities and activities that pertain to us.
It is the sphere in which we feel comfortable, and it contains the values, opinions and beliefs that we hold to be important. They are the thoughts and feelings that define us.
Our perception of the world is a result of our lenses and our filters.
We are what we see, and what we see is a function of our filters and our lenses.
For instance, your reality lens might be filled with wonder, awe, and fascination when you look at the sunrise.
Your friends might see it as a beautiful vista.
Your neighbor might say it’s just another sunrise. Or you might see it as a threat, an inconvenience or a nuisance. That’s all a matter of perspective. And no, it’s not just limited to sunrises, either.
A single perspective in life is not the whole truth. There are multiple realities of life that hold some kind of truth.
“Our life is only perception,” Marcus Aurelius said.
For example, there is no single definition of success.
Many factors contribute to unique outcomes. And every success story is the result of the application of many realities.
Simply put, dozens of factors applied at a specific time in history can result in different outcomes.
Similarly, there are different perspectives on all aspects of life. You can learn other realities to improve your odds of getting things right.
There is an inevitable reality to how things appear to you at home and another reality to how they appear to you when you venture out into the world.
Your perspective, again, is a function of your lens and your filter.
It all depends on where you are standing and what you’re looking at.
But some standards and principles can be applied in specific circumstances. The results are always guaranteed, but using rules and principles is necessary to improve your odds of success.
I like what Ken Wilber, the author of A Brief History of Everything, once said, “I have one major rule: Everybody is right. More specifically, everybody — including me — has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.”
Perspective is not permanent
You can make subtle changes to realities in life or, better still, learn and apply different perspectives when it comes to decision-making in the many areas of life.
The capacity to hold and apply multiple perspectives is very important in life. For example, people have different realities about successful investing.
There are also many mental and psychological models for investing.
How Warren Buffet invests is different from Carl Icahn’s investing methods. But they are all successful in their own way. The point is, what if you know both approaches to investment?
You will improve or upgrade your investing reality if you learn from both successful investors.
You will be able to apply the right approach when necessary.
“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions,” Oliver Wendell Holmes said.
Successful people apply different methods, principles, routines and habits and then stick with the ones that deliver more or better results.
A multi-perspective mindset can help you gather as many mental models and perspectives as possible to improve your reality about life.
This article originally appeared in Medium.