“Perspective is everything”

Nothing like a TED talk to start PhD Wednesday…this time by Rory Sutherland with the presentation ‘Perspective is everything’. I need a little of this right now in relation to a few things in my professional and personal life in the UK and here in Shanghai. Rory stands at the centre of an advertising revolution in brand identities, designing cutting-edge, interactive campaigns that blur the line between advertising and entertainment, where here he makes a compelling case for how ‘re-framing is the key to happiness’. I think as a creative you always have to be able to re-frame, re-negotiate, re-think, re-appropriate…approach things from different perspectives and ways of seeing…innovate to gain essential perspective in order to problem solve, progress and progress positively. You have to be able to take yourself out of your usual parameters and boundaries to surprise yourself…to work, play, think, create, experience in new ways…make a change, not always a huge, fundamental one, but small changes even have a ricochet effect. The question is how you take this approach to be part of not only your professional practice but as part of life…part of your psychological, emotional, social construct as a person, which I am always trying to do…just think a little differently sometimes. Does anyone else ever feel like they get too close to the project they are working on (in my case my PhD) and just can’t seem to find a solution to a certain creative problematic? That’s when perspective comes in right? Either by taking a step back and gaining physical perspective, or by getting others to give their critical perspective…it always helps somehow. A 9am breakfast meeting with a Shanghai-San Francisco Chinese art gallerist helped me this morning to talk through certain research strands that are “in progress” so I’m fueled to write now. Perfect.

As Rory states, ‘Since I’ve stopped smoking I’ve enjoyed going to parties less and less. Sometimes you don’t want to talk…sometimes you just want to stand there silently alone with your thoughts or sometimes you want to stand on your own and stare out of the window…when  you can’t smoke it makes you look like an anti-social friendless idiot, with a cigarette you are a philosopher…therefore, the power of re-framing cannot be overstated…one makes you feel great and the other with a small change of posture makes you feel terrible.’

“Reality isn’t a good guide to human happiness…The circumstances of our lives actually matter less to our happiness than the sense of control we feel over our lives.” – Rory Sutherland

‘We should spend less time looking into humanities hidden depths and spend more time looking at the hidden shallows…what we think and do….There is an imbalance, asymmetry in the way we treat creative emotionally driven psychological ideas versus the way we treat rational numerical spreadsheet driven ideas…We can use psychology to solve problems that we didn’t even realise were problems at all…the likelihood people will get to the end is much higher when there is a milestone in the middle.’ Throughout the duration of my PhD, I have always given myself small rewards at periodic and defining milestones to get me to the next stage and somehow I am three years into it. Celebrating my 30th birthday next year will be a big one, hopefully synchronized with when my PhD is done…or at least a first draft.

“If your perception is much worst than your reality what on earth are you doing to try and change the reality?…Choose your frame of reference and the value will be transformed.” – Rory Sutherland

As I sit here and work, writing “out of office” as such…where I am always more productive than sitting at my desk back at home…I’m going to tell you to go out and gain perspective…think differently about something in your life whether it be professional or personal…take a step back or asking others for advice…make a change by doing something you would never usually do and surprise yourself. “Re-frame” for a minute…an hour…or the whole day…and most of all enjoy it.

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