David Harkins

David Harkins

Dr. David L. Harkins is a social scientist researching the human experience in systems and culture. He is an experienced executive coach and consultant, passionate educator, and keynote speaker. Through his teachings, inspiration, and guidance, he helps individuals and organizations identify and connect with their potential to make a meaningful difference in their communities.

A matter of perspective

One of the first things my dad taught me when I was learning to drive was the concept of parallax. Parallax is used in physics as a method of measuring distance and considers that the position of a single object will look different depending on the point from which it is viewed.

For a young driver, parallax explains why the view of the road from the driver’s seat looks a little different from that of the passenger’s seat. A thorough understanding of the concept might prevent that driver from clipping a mailbox, or a telephone pole, with the passenger-side mirror. I grasped the concept only after I paid for three mirrors and learned my dad was not as concerned about the mirrors, as he was about my apparent inability to adjust my perspective about the right side of the car. That experience taught me the most valuable lesson that parallax is not just confined to how we view objects.

Our approach to life also depends on perspective. For example, when the sunlight streams through our bedroom window early on a summer morning, we are either grateful to begin a new day, or aggravated because our sleep cycle has been interrupted too soon. Regardless of how we feel about it, the sun is still going to rise. Either we get up with a smile, or we grumble about hanging darker curtains before the next morning. Our perspective at that moment, whether we’ve slept enough or not, is something we choose.

Like the sun rising and setting, it’s often those things not within our control that frustrate us most. It’s in these times we must evaluate whether the situation is truly what we believe it to be, or if our frustrations instead come from how we are choosing to deal with the situation. In either case, we might find an opportunity for personal growth, assuming we will allow ourselves the freedom to move around a little and view our situation from a different perspective.

Regardless of our choice, time never stops. The sun will continue to rise and set. Grass will grow, and rain will fall. Children will be born, and loved ones will die. There is little we can do about any of it, except to choose where we’re going to stand.

What do you see from where you’ve chosen to stand? Would what you see change from a different perspective? Yes, it would look different. Parallax, remember?


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