The following is an excerpt from my third book on Leadership – ‘The Conference for Leaders’. It is an opening talk at a Leadership Conference where the audience is being challenged to be open to learn...
“…take a look at this box that I am putting up on the screen. I’ll only show it to you for a moment. It’s a box with a hole in it. Quickly examine the picture and decide which surface the hole is in.”
I allowed the participants a few seconds to view the slide, and then clicked to a blank screen. I then asked “So, where did you see the hole?
“How many think the hole is in the front of the cube, in the lower right-hand corner?” I asked, and several hands were raised. “How many think it’s in the front of the cube, somewhere towards the center?” I asked and other hands were raised. “How many think it’s in the back somewhere?” I asked, and still other participants raised their hands. “Okay,” I said.
“Now, look again” and I projected the slide for a few more seconds. “This time, did you notice that the hole was somewhere…different?” Lots of hands were raised, as people in the audience realized that they could not only see the hole on the first surface they saw it on, but on two or three other surfaces, as well. “Okay look one last time,” I said, and turned the slide back on for good. I asked the participants to visualize the hole on every possible surface, front center, front lower right, back surface lower right, in the top surface looking down, and so on.
“Here’s another thought,” Maybe it’s just a ball floating, and there’s no hole at all!” Everyone laughed, and some people talked amongst themselves and pointed. Some people even argued with each other about what surface the hole was on and whether it was a hole or a floating ball. I regained their attention. “What does all this mean? What’s the point here?” I asked as he strolled up and down the stage, taking a few responses from the audience. He continued, “All those interpretations you suggested are correct.
This is an exercise that encourages seeing things from a different perspective with an open mind. However, the main lesson in looking at this box is what you just experienced. After seeing it in one or maybe two places initially, you were eventually able to see it in four, five, or even six possible places. Think about this, now—why were you able to? What enabled you to see other possibilities?”
I paused and listened to a few responses that were shouted out and then went on to answer the own question.
“It’s because you were willing to try to see a different perspective!