SHIFT Your Perspective

What does Mary Poppins give the Banks children that their former nanny didn’t? She gives them a different perspective. She shows them that medicine does not have to taste horrible if you add “just a spoonful of sugar.” She takes the children’s negativity and gives them another way to think about the experience. With this perspective the “medicine goes down” much more easily than before.

How often are we caught up in some belief about a situation that, if looked at a different way, might be as sweet as that medicine (or at least more tolerable)? I suspect that we run into these types of situations daily, from the petty to the significant.  For example:  the traffic is terrible and you are going to be late to an appointment; the meeting room was not set up properly, the client just arrived, your assistant is out sick, and your boss is waiting for an update; or you just learned that your best friend has cancer.

When unexpected things happen, it’s easy to get mired in the unfairness of it all. It’s easy to get stuck and not be able to make a decision. It’s easy to avoid dealing with it at all. And none of these perspectives help the situation.

When you are in the middle of an event that is frustrating, debilitating or depressing, it’s probably time to SHIFT (Situation, Hone, Imagine, Forward, Transformation) your perspective. Here is a framework to use to do just that.

Situation – What happened?

  • Define what has happened
  • Stick to the facts and only the facts
  • For a (simple) example:

I left the house late and now there is an accident ahead of me
I will be late meeting with the client
I am about a mile from where I need to be

Hone – Determine your feelings about the situation

  • What’s your first emotion that comes up?
  • Do you feel it in your gut? Is your heart racing? Do you need to sit down?
  • It’s helpful to really “hone” in here, so think of a broad range of words to describe how you feel
  • For example:

Weary with just one more thing going wrong

Imagine – Consider different options or perspectives

  • Instead of feeling anxious or overwhelmed, or whatever else you are feeling, how else could you look at this event?
  • What is the perspective of people you trust?
  • Is it possible to break the problem down into manageable pieces, some of which you can do right now ?
  • What would Mary Poppins do?
  • Sometimes to change your perspective, it also helps to physically move – to a different place, from sitting to standing, or just go for a walk
  • For example:

What will the client think?
What are two things I could do to make a difference in my situation?
What would Mary Poppins do (go outside and sing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”)?

Forward – Commit to action

  • Choose one of these new perspectives. Now how does that feel?
  • What does this new perspective drive you to do differently?
  • For example:

There are certainly two things I can do to relieve my feeling of helplessness and guilt
I can get off at the next off-ramp
I can call the client, apologize and tell her when I believe I will arrive


  • Own this new perspective and act out of it
  • Depending on the situation, this may be a small “t” transformation, but it is a change in outlook that could make a big difference in your day or in your life
  • For example:

I have done something about what I can control
I am not a terrible person, I have apologized and, in the larger scheme of life, this is a minor blip

You have the power to change your own perspective, just as Mary Poppins changed the children’s perspective.  You can make life better, one situation at a time, by SHIFT-ing your perspective.


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