On Perspective as a Professional Development Competency

May 01, 2017

During the weekly meeting on Tuesday, March 28th, I presented on the professional development competency of perspective. It was an interesting exercise to gain more perspective on the concept of perspective itself. I approached this competency via the following categories:

  1. Cultural perspective, by discussing TED talks on different cultural approaches: Weird or just different? and How to tie your shoes?
  2. Perspective vs. reality, by discussing optical illusions, including the now infamous gold or blue dress of 2014
  3. Perspective in the professional realm, by discussing the difference between technical and psychological solutions
  4. The PAF perspective, and how it has been applicable in our workplaces.

We also discussed the following strategies for maintaining perspective:

  1. Perspective as a continual mindset, by discussing the scout vs. soldier mindset. The scout mindset is curious and not interested in affirming any personal truths or personal biases. The soldier mindset is interested in defending personal truths and ideas; it is typically lacking in perspective, because it holds so firmly to what it already knows and what is comfortable.
  2. Engage others
  3. Solve different problems
  4. Ask why?
  5. Participate in service
  6. Explore different environments
  7. Practice “mindfulness”

We tried applying these strategies in an activity addressing an issue one of our PAFs faced at the time at her placement. We addressed this issue by splitting up into groups and considered solutions from the perspective of three famous historical figures: Malcolm X, Marie Curie, and George Washington. Our PAF decided to run with Marie Curie’s approach to the solution – methodical, informed, and unbiased.

See GW’s Learn Now guide on Perspective for more information about this essential professional development competency.


Zunara Naeem

Zunara is a second year fellow recently completing a Master of Public Administration; she is now pursuing a certificate in Nonprofit Management. This year, her professional placement is with the Dean's Office of Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.