Take a moment and look at this image.
Now tell me, what do you see? If you said a parrot, you’re right.
But, take another look. Look closely.
Want to change your answer? If you now see a woman, you’re right.
[Don’t see the woman? Take another look. Hint: look at the parrot’s “head” and see if you can distinguish a woman’s head with her arm bent over top of her head.]
Now for the real question: Is it a parrot or a woman? Or is it both? Can it be both a woman and a parrot at the same time? Well, why not? After all, you can see both when you look at this image. So is either of these answers wrong?
Why did you (most likely) see the parrot first in this image? Well there were some indicators to your brain that this was in fact a parrot – for starters, the colors. Parrots have a very distinct coloring that makes them easily identifiable. In addition to the features was the pose. The parrot is perched on top of a wooden pole, a perfectly normal place for a parrot to find rest. And lastly, the background of the image is green, imitating the greenery you might expect to find in a tropical region, a parrot’s natural habitat. Your brain was primed to draw the parrot conclusion from the start. Let’s face it: your brain didn’t even stand a chance!
While this ability to draw quick conclusions without examining all of the details helps us function in our day-to-day lives, it’s also what often blocks us from seeing situations in more than one way. But without different perspectives, we will fall into pre-existing habits without even thinking of venturing outside of the norm.
Take Uber, for example. Currently the largest car company in the world, Uber doesn’t even own a single cab. How is this even possible? Well, Uber saw the transportation business in a different way than many of their more traditional counterparts. Instead of building a fleet of vehicles, why not leverage individuals with vehicles by connecting them to customers needing a ride? To the consumer, Uber = cab service, a way to get from point A to point B. But when you shake off the assumptions, think about what Uber actually does. Uber, at heart, is a technology company that built a multi-national, wildly successful transportation network. Would this have been possible if Uber had followed the traditional path without imaging the future with a different perspective?
Are you doing the same thing day in and day out without trying something different? Think of ways to challenge your assumptions every day. Sometimes all it takes is a slight shift in perspective to change the world.