When I was at McKinsey, one of the biggest reasons clients cited for repeatedly hiring McKinsey was: “perspective.”

Clients would say that the firm helped them see their own businesses in a new way.

At the time, this seemed like a somewhat amorphous reason for spending a few million dollars in consulting fees.

However, as I started serving clients in my own consulting practice, I started to appreciate what clients meant by this.

Opportunities that were hiding in plain sight suddenly become visible for the first time.

Tough decisions that had been lingering and people had procrastinated over for years were suddenly made on 24 hours notice.

When it comes to perspective, I like to borrow a phrase from the field of neuro-linguistic programming called “framing.”

Framing uses the metaphor of a picture frame as a way to describe the biases by which we view the world (in this metaphor, the world is represented by the painting that resides within the frame).

In all facets of life, the “frame” by which you view a situation makes a profound difference.

If you view lack of success as “failure,” that’s one kind of frame.

An alternative frame is to view lack of success as “feedback” instead of “failure” — it’s the same facts but an entirely different PERSPECTIVE.

In the last recession, I had a prospective client that was struggling financially.

They said, “We don’t know what to do.  We are very good at what we do. Our clients and prospective clients agree we are better than any other providers. We have no competition.”

My reply was: “Yes, you do. Instead of using the word ‘competitor,’ use the phrase ‘alternative to buying from us.’

“From your prospects’ point of view, what is the alternative to buying from you?

“Answer: Not buying a damn thing from anybody.

“In other words, the alternative to buying from you isn’t buying from another company. The alternative is to DO NOTHING.

“Instead of thinking of competitors as other providers, think of competitors as ‘alternatives to buying from us.’ It changes everything.”

I helped them change their “frame” and perspective.

They immediately replaced all their marketing materials that showed how they were better than other providers. They replaced it with materials that showed how buying from them was better than not doing anything to solve their problems.

A simple perspective change AUTOMATICALLY implies all kinds of downstream decisions and actions.

This is why Fortune 500 CEOs like it when consultants give them new “perspective” on their businesses. A simple perspective change makes hundreds of smaller decisions simple and easy.

Here’s a potential perspective shift for you.

Whether or not you realize it, you are pursuing a dream.

The real question is: Are you pursuing your own dream or someone else’s?

Share your thoughts with me below.