Perspective is a Tool

Perspective /pərˈspektiv/

noun | A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

What I’m about to say walks a very fine line. There are philosophical and religious ideas on it, there are ideas of truth, and of right and wrong. Just know that what I am writing about here is not more than a gentle reminder that we have more power than we think. And less. And that how we position that understanding makes a big difference in how we live our lives.


Perspective as a Tool

What we know for sure, as most of us with family in denial know (and this is certainly not an advocation of that), is that people want to believe what they want to believe. Without getting too deep on matters of truth, I’d like to touch on “perspective” as it has come up a lot these days.

Perspective is the power to shape something, to establish meaning. It has the power to drive one’s self, to delay one’s self. It provides both a way of seeing and a point of view.
To lose perspective is to go blind in all the wrong ways. In using it as a tool, you have the power of reframing things for your own benefit. Not in a selfish way, but in a self-preservation way.

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl talks about his time in the Auschwitz concentration camp and the thousands he had seen let go of life.

Frankl tells us that there was nothing particularly special about him compared to those who perished, except that he and most of the survivors he observed had a way of reframing the pain they were enduring as being for something greater.

Now, of course we know that there isn’t a particular justified *reason* for crimes of war, but in each of their individual cases, those survivors found one worth living for.

It wasn’t until very recently, after reading a piece about the distinction between pain and suffering, that I actually understood this annoying statement I’ve read so many times before:

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

Like most of you, I heard this a hundred times. But in truth, still didn’t really understand how or why I would keep choosing suffering. I didn’t know what I could do to stop it, and it certainly wasn’t intentional. It turns out that the insatiable curiosity behind my avid learning was not only something I cherish, but also the bane of my existence. Trying to understand something that you literally cannot (for reasons truly outside your control) is an agonizing thing.

And so, it is very common that suffering ensues when you over-analyze a thing out of your control.

Note: Don’t take this out of context. This doesn’t apply to science, philosophy or any other thing that we most willingly suffer out of enjoyment or greater aim (that’s a different thing).

Pain and suffering is the difference between the acknowledgement,

“You hurt me”

and the repeated asking of the question (to no sufficient answer),

“Why did you hurt me?”
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask the latter. It just means that at some point that question no longer matters.

Here are some examples:

Painful: “She left.”
Suffering: “Why did she go?”

Painful: “It rained on my suede boots.”
Suffering: “Why is the weather like this?”

Painful: “The market has shifted.”
Suffering: “Why is the market changing?

Pain, in comparison, is rather objective. It is a recognition of while suffering is a voracious asking of “Why?” — for an answer to a question that is not yours — otherwise you would have it.

Bear with me and play with this idea for a moment: if the Why doesn’t matter at a certain point, then could we invent a beneficial answer? Is there danger in that? I think it’s a fine line surely, an art, to give yourself an answer to a question that you would otherwise never have an answer for. I think it’s wise if and only if the objective answer is beyond you and you have tried to obtain it. But it is the duty of your existence to move on in the ways you can. And that doesn’t require a delusion: a *false* hard-pressed reason for why things are the way they are — just *a* reason you can build positive action around. You still need an accurate depiction of all the things you can get an accurate depiction of. You will always need the truth insofar as you can get it. But when you can’t get it, it might bode well to suggest a truth to yourself that might help you move forward.

In its most extreme case, perspective is the difference between wanting to live and wanting to die. Perspective is the reason you do what you do, whether you like what you do or not. And most important for all of us to realize is that perspective is a tool — one that you own. It might need sharpening, like any good tool; it might need clarifying and cleaning, like a good lens. But you hold every chance to find an angle that serves you in the most genuine of ways. You have it and it’s yours.

If you only saw yourself from your phone’s front-facing camera leveled below your chin, you’d have an unflattering shrek-like view — every single time. In the same way, the pretty filter on Snapchat might make you look like a ray of sunshine, but neither of these views of yourself are “true” — they’re just angles and filters and ways of seeing yourself. So, why can’t we play with that? Why can’t we see ourselves in another light? Or a different angle?

[Note: Snapchat filters are smarter than you think. They come off as a form of play but it's more than that. It's developing a way of suspending yourself into different characters, different beings - and playing with that, without the risk of course, of really playing with that].

This quote:

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Most people attribute this quote to Henry Ford. And, he did say it. But before him, 17th century poet John Dryden said it. And before him, it was said by a Roman poet, Virgil, in 29 B.C.

These poets are smart.

The truth is so very damn complex sometimes, but we do have the power to see it when it’s there, and to humbly believe in a truth when we must.

While of course we each have our own subjective experience based on a unique context, we also have this tool we can use to move on, to understand people, to reframe situations. We have a tool to reposition things in our mind, which includes the power to reposition the idea of yourself.

What could you do better if you saw yourself differently?

This post is in light of two people whose work has inspired me, and who I wish could have stepped away from their aching perspective towards a better one when they needed it most.

How to Build Empathy in 3 Easy Steps

Note: it's not easy.


Step 1: Find the connection

It is incredibly difficult to care about something or someone in an authentic way without relating somehow. How deep that relation is and the significance of it is completely up to you. There are blood relatives that feel disconnected from one another, while two strangers can meaningfully bond over a cigarette on a street corner. For this first part, you decide what’s important.
I have a simple trick for finding something in common with someone: I look at the facts. The most basic fact, that which is the foundation of reason to care, is simple and shared by all (even you, the person or robot reading this):

We exist right now, together, at the same time on earth.
This is not an insignificant thing.

It is the foundation of love, and the way and reason I am able to connect to people so quickly. Being hyperconscious of this fact has compelled me to give a shit more times than not, in ways that have been more fulfilling than most. Connecting to you is connecting to myself, is connecting to God, is connecting to my environment, is connecting to my past and to all my possibilities. It’s like holding hands for the soul. I know it sounds cheesy as hell, but there really isn’t a better way to describe it. “That touched me” is a physical phrase we use to describe a sensation deeper than our physical bodies, although it isn’t necessarily the proper language for it.
Being in the world together is an incredible thing we share. It weaves us onto the same line of existence. It’s also quality enough for me to love you. Of course my love and care is not bound to existence — there are many people for whom I have developed a great love for and have not shared a direct existence with — but you being here with me is reason enough, deserving of a very special kind of respect. Finding this connection is a crucial step one.


Step 2: Be insatiably curious

Not a little curious– no. Fall in love with learning. There isn’t a person on this earth that I cannot learn from. It doesn’t matter if it’s learning how to do something, what to do, what not to do, why or when — I am not so above it all that there is nothing left for me to discover or refine in this world. Coming to people with a deep desire to learn 1) fosters real human connection and 2) promotes never ending progress. The latter can sound discouraging if you let it, but rather than be upset that you will never know it all, try leaning on the side of joy for the unknown. Be excited by it. 

Let that hunger be an opportunity to connect. Learning is the easiest, most flattering way to bridge a bond that gives you an opportunity to grow in ways you could have never imagined. Ask questions, provide tools for communication; eagerly, rigorously learn. 


Step 3: Lose yourself briefly

Allow yourself to be both immersed completely and one tug away from your own reality. You’ll need this skill in order to understand things well and still be removed enough to see them clearly. This kind of immersion requires a sort of break in boundaries. Or as Psychologist John Townsend would say, utilizing the gate. A boundary with a door that opens and closes, rather than a brick wall. Open the gate to let things in and to let things out.

This last step feels more or less like a magic trick. You are in a place, and then you aren’t. You feel everything, and then you step out and observe it. I call it contextual immersion, and if you can’t get there physically, you can get there with the use of intense visualization and imagination. This third step is also the most emotionally taxing. 


It’s often a struggle to feel people so well, but practicing empathy is an enormously valuable tool for problem solving and a method of connecting that provides integrity within bonds. It’s also a very human marker; we can build tools that have empathic components in the use of responsive words, but not ones that share feelings. Not yet at least. And until then, as far as assets go, empathy is a strong one. 

What if you played against no one? 

What if the success of your business wasn’t pegged against the best or worst in your industry?

What if you measured fulfillment instead of profit? What would that even look like?

What would it look like if you played *with* people in your industry instead of *against* them?

What if all your “competitors” were “partners”? Who would you be serving? How would you be serving them, together?

You might play until people are happy, and then keep playing. You might play until you’ve delivered the thing you want to deliver. You might play until you’re tired and don’t find it interesting anymore. You might play because it’s a good time to play right now. You might play because the people you respect and admire are playing. You might play so that your children know that they could play someday.

But figuring out what you’re playing and why you’re playing it will help settle whatever weird, nameless, blurry, aimless feeling you get sometimes.

Other kinds of games exist.

What Successful Entrepreneurs Don't Talk About

They don’t talk about the fact that sometimes you may spend hours, days, weeks trying to find or a fill a perfect market niche, and that a fit isn’t always found. And that the truth doesn’t change with your ability to stomach it.

They don’t talk about the FOMO, the anxiety, the constant self doubt, the hours spent working on confidence, self-esteem, experience — all to get the courage to take a risk.

They don’t talk about the fact that things fall through, that people let you down, that your business partner may leave, that you might — to your dismay — have to work in a group setting.

They don’t talk about how you’ll probably pull from your savings, depend on sheer luck and the grace of God at times, and learn to compose creative income strategies when push comes to shove.

They don’t talk about the fact that being a professional requires at least some sort of consistency, even if it’s a consistently messy desk.

They don’t talk about the gratitude for recognition, or the smallest word from a mentor giving them the booster seat they needed to sit at the table.

They don’t talk about the little tests they create to filter ideas or the time spent practicing pitches in the mirror.

They don’t talk about the loneliness and the fear involved with making decisions that affect others, and the consciousness it takes to accept that and not let it paralyze you.

They don’t talk about how you’re doing so much of this because what drives you is an insatiable curiosity or a hard-lined fear or an incredible passion — all of which can ultimately be reduced to *not logic*.

They don’t talk about how you’ll need to be good at psychology or finance or writing or something else that has nothing to do with business in order to be good at Business.

They don’t talk about these things, but they should.

  1. Budding entrepreneurs deserve realistic expectations 
  2. Vulnerability is the root of human connection


....and that last bit is what we’re all going for, isn’t it?

Art is a process of expression.

Here is a slideshow breakdown to help explain its importance in business and life.

Your input makes a difference

Have you ever wondered if your input makes a difference to the company you gave it to?

It does. 

Sometimes the face of an organization is hard to find, but it still surprises me when I tell people that the Squarespace team actually listens to what you have to say and takes real notes. Since 2008, I've sent a number of messages to the support team and have been consistently responded to with a "thanks for bringing this to our attention" or "we'll pass this on to our developers" or "we'll bring this up in our next meeting," and guess what?

They actually do. 

Everyone I've told this to has had a look of surprise and a high-pitched response of, "Really?" And, I understand that surprise.

Have we really gotten to a place where we're in disbelief that an organization can hear us? Are we so keen on the idea that companies are faceless, soulless organizations that we are numb to the truth that organizations are made up of people? And these people might even care about what we have to say? Even *gasp* listen to us at times? Are we really so shocked that they want to know about improvements or suggestions or errors or opportunities? 

If you're an organization that doesn't listen to people who care enough to say something, then you're failing miserably. And if you're a client or customer on the verge of giving feedback, give it. 

Don't nit pick like an asshole, and don't underestimate your words and waste everybody's time by saying something you wouldn't say in person–just be real with it. Say it like you're saying it to a friend. Give the company that benefit of the doubt, and let them give that benefit to you. 

This year, I've learned a lot about friendship–more than I ever have in my life. And, from an organizational standpoint, it's not just about being there in gratitude of service (an extremely important thing I strongly advocate), but also just existing in the world as a person who gives a damn. Just a little bit. Where it's not ever consuming, but is effective.

Like a real friend.

Find Your Muse

When they say, "Find Your Muse," they mean it. 

Coffee isn't one of those things that I just drink to drink. Coffee holds my muse. It flows through me and creates whatever it wants to create. If you'd like to chalk the caffeine up to a sheer chemical surge, then I suggest you do the same with Love.


Bloom Where You Are Planted (and Other Shit)

My childhood friend was feeling sad, so I made her this book of things she could do to feel better. It has helped a few of my awesome friends now, and at minimum put a smile on their face. Hopefully it helps you, too.

Please share this shit with your friends who might need it.


The Most Successful [Free] Business Marketing Secret of Our Time!

Care. Care more. Care more and you win.

That's it.


Thanks to Seth Godin for always reminding me.

Lessons & Other Things (So Far)

The following are Lessons & Other Things (So Far) that I found in an old document while looking for something else. However, I still found them completely relevant. Hopefully some of these serve as reminders to you. Here goes:

  • Too much information can be a bad thing.
  • Hiking is good for you.
  • The sand is beige and the grass is green, and you should have both.
  • Dogs are the best pets on earth.
  • People hide their feelings all the time.
  • Don’t try to save face.
  • Tell the truth and save the hassle.
  • Anything I set up to succeed without me is a good idea.
  • Singing in the car relieves stress.
  • Be kind to people and they’ll be kind to you.
  • Your mom has suffered more than you, because she’s older.
  • Your dad has suffered more than you, because . . . he won’t talk about it.
  • Care more about your unintentional impression than your intentional one.
  • Don’t be sad if they get the wrong impression.
  • Be understanding but pick a side.
  • Things only go gray when you cross a line.
  • Even Tim Ferriss can mess up.
  • Creating patterns out of randomness is overall a good human trait.
  • Eating your feelings can, in fact, be a form of therapy.
  • Kick your own ass.
  • Once you’re passed the point of being tired, keep going. Just kidding, you tried to rationalize something bad for yourself again.
  • OneRepublic is a pretty decent band.
  • If someone you love doesn’t pay attention to you and is by your side, just nudge their leg and fall asleep.
  • Kiss your puppy on the head. It's good for the both of you.
  • Watch movies and feel unproductive in a productive way.
  • Purposely make yourself more creative for your own benefit.
  • Go back on your judgements.
  • Be content or do something else–avoid the middle.
  • Forward useful emails.
  • Make valuable connections for people.
  • Get excited, get disappointed, and refuse to repeat the disappointing part.
  • “Thinkers never sleep, sleepers never think” is not true.
  • Soup still nourishes your soul.

Creating Best-in-Class Service

Great service begins with gratitude.

But what does gratitude begin with?

The ability to see connections.

How does that happen?

By having the proper scope of vision. 

But what gives you the proper scope of vision?

The willingness to See.

And what makes you willing to see?


Good question.


The Opportunity to Care

The Opportunity to Care

It’s normally a burden. We often wish, how can we do less of this. We sometimes even pray for us to stop doing it, to lessen its harshness, to ease its egging obligation stemming from empathy or need or desire. 

The New Business Plan: Love

The New Business Plan: Love

It’s for companies, organizations of all sizes. It’s not cyclical in the way we think about other processes. It works more like a drop of water in a still pond. It shakes things up, and at a time where business seems to be synonymous with cold, hard systems, it gives blood to an organization.

The Fear of Looking Lived

The Fear of Looking Lived

We want things to be pristine, which works great for a model home, but not so much for life.

Does Money Make You?

Does Money Make You?

Everybody knows, I love the personification of business. I love talking about an organizational emotion or feel, its value system, beliefs, culture--all those things that go beyond location but which location also influences. But a lot of businesses (not all) are measured in money. And that got me thinking about measurements. 

February Books of Choice

I'm in the middle of reading some and have yet to begin others. If you've read them, share with me your best take-aways (@tanyamoushi or via email works). If you haven't read them, you can do so now while I'm reading them. If you want notes, highlights, etc. let me know. Sometimes we learn things better by teaching others. That's a fact, actually. Disclaimer: the links below are autoconnected to Amazon Associates. If you live in Phoenix, I recommend a local book store called Changing Hands

The Rain

Someone told me that the greatest thing that ever happened to them was the rain. They said it was the only thing that made them notice the sun. 

The Beginning of Marketing Kindness

To be kind is simply to express the knowledge and conviction of a truth: that among the many varying places which exist, and generations that have come before us; that among the particular, notable time of earth and between the lives that lived before us and those arriving afterwards, it is a significant thing that we exist together, now. And by that virtue, the treatment towards one another, the interactions that naturally abound, will be bearing this fact as the foundation of action. I am compelled to recognize the sameness, and thus can’t help but hold the empathy that dwells mercilessly in me for you. 

Brian ;)

I met a stranger who is not really a stranger anymore. His name was Brian. Well actually, Brian ;) is what his name tag read, and young Brian, 23, helped change my life. Because young Brian was not afraid to be kind to people, to care about his work, to believe in his impact, to make very apparent the correct idea that little things like a winky-face smiley at the end of his name tag could make people smile, and that’s all most people needed on a tough day. 

They buried Brian on my birthday, May 17 [2013] after a hit and run by some white pick-up truck that has yet to be caught. His small interactions continue to make a big difference, even now.

And so do yours, by the way.


We have become masters

. . . of distraction.

We must disrupt ourselves. We must mess up the lies we’ve told, we must wreck our fears by throwing them into the abyss. We must run rampant on our comfort, leaving it bewildered behind us. We must detach the untruths--we must discover them first. We must hear the thing we wish not to hear, we must give chance to the thing we hate to watch, we must say the things we cannot say. We must drink the thing we cannot chew and swallow the thing we cannot stomach. We must break the things given to us and put them back together our own way, for it is a sin to do nothing with a gift that has been given to us and yet call it our own. 

We must disrupt everything.