Why is having a holistic point of view useful?

When we expand our point of view, we have more skill and more capacity from which to take action. We have a greater capacity for compassion, acceptance, understanding, strategic thinking and tolerance – there are more options available for us to consider – not because there really are more options – but because we can see more of the options that already existed and therefore, take more of them into account before choosing. These all come in brilliantly for effective decision making and action-taking.

So – how does having a more holistic point of view help us grow in those ways?

It seems like holistic has come to mean something like being ‘organic’ and living a healthy lifestyle (fresh and natural foods, exercise). But that isn’t the definition of holistic. Google defines holistic as:

“characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.”

This means that having a holistic view is having a view where we understand both the whole and the parts of something, and, we understand how the parts, when brought together, make up the whole.

When you have the whole picture of something, you have many perspectives (these are the parts of the whole). Not only do you have the perspectives, but you understand each of the perspectives and you understand how they make up the whole. This is important because when you understand each of the parts – truly understand them – you begin to expand your knowledge and understanding. You understand the integrity of the parts and the whole. You may also develop a sense of rightness and compassion for the collaboration and necessariness of each part to the other and to the whole.

For example, in the US, where our politics are very much dividing us right now, having a holistic view could mean that you would understand the various positions and platforms that US and global citizens hold – when you can really understand why people hold the positions they hold, you may be able to have compassion for the people who hold those positions – understanding how the various parts are necessary to each other and how they all make up the whole. Even if you don’t like various positions, when you fully understand their view, you can understand, why, from their point of view, that position makes sense.

This gives you a chance for acceptance, tolerance and compassion for others (especially those who don’t have your same point of view). That means that you can have useful conversations with people who don’t think like you do. This is especially important in working with teams. If the entire team thinks alike, there are many solutions the group cannot and will not ever see. But if you have a diverse team, where each of the individuals is unique and truly has a unique point of view – each of the various points of view will open up different pathways – and different pathways mean the potential for different action and therefore different outcomes. The data set you begin with is so much richer. And, if you embrace those views (coming from a holistic pov), you are more likely to see ways forward that people who are entrenched in their point of view (or have fewer points of view available) simply cannot see. It also means that you have more ‘supplies’ at your disposal to problem solve.

The more perspectives you have –> the more data points you have –> the more choice you have –> the more pathways you can choose from for action –> the more likely is success.