I like one of Mark Twain’s statements, “What gets you into trouble is not what we don’t know. It is what we know for sure, that just isn’t so”. I’ve seen one video where Al Gore is narrating a story from his childhood. In school, during the geography class, the teacher pulls down a world map. One student from the back row, holds up his hand and asks looking at the West coast of Africa and East coast of South America, “Did they ever fit together”? The teacher said, “Of course not! That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard”. I know your eye brows have raised themselves without the permission of your brain because you do know now that continents drifted apart. Actually, the teacher, was reflecting the common belief of the scientific establishment at that time. And that belief was, ‘Continents are so big, obviously no one thought of them to move’. It is after so many decades after that incident that now we know they did move. They moved apart from one another. Well, the student went on to become a drug addict and the teacher went on to become the science advisor in the then existing political administration.
Isn’t it amazing how ‘subjective reality’ can steer your life either way! Speaking of reality, there is one more reality which we all live with and that is about, “Who am I?” Believe me, ‘Who am I’ is one of the biggest industries in the world! And everyone’s perception about who they are is basically their subjective reality about themselves. So, I would like to ask, how do you know who you are? Your perception about yourself? How did you get that perception? Looking at yourself in the mirror? Scanning your life in the past of what you did and what you chose not to? Your value system? Your personality-type? Is it that you relate yourself to some public figure so much, that you start feeling you are exactly like that? Or is it that someone told you what kind of a person you are. It might just not be someone, it could be a group of the closest stakeholders in your life who have ‘read’ you and have expressed their thoughts to you, about you, whenever they had a chance. Well, how do they know? And firstly, do they know about themselves fully and clearly? Sometimes, we perceive who we are, based on the judgements of others who themselves don’t know who they are in the first place. But here is one nice statement that I believe in, “What annoys you about other people, tells you a lot about who you are”. I will talk more about this statement a little later and I am sure it will make perfect sense to you then.
But just for fun, play this little game with yourself in your free time or probably when you’ve ordered food which has not yet arrived. Actually, I have a better place where you can do this. Play this game while going through acute constipation sitting on that potty seat. I am sure, at the end of the game, the non-downloadable items suddenly will become downloadable. What you need to do is, ask yourself, “Who am I”? You will get a reply. Something like, “My name is (your name)”, or “I am a (your career or competency)”. Whatever answer you get, ask yourself, “That’s it? That is all that you are”? Then you will say, “No, that is not all. I am also a son/daughter/father etc.”. Again, ask yourself, “Is that all”? Keep doing this and stretch your mind till the 25th, 30th, or even 50th iteration. You will realize, you will always have something more to say about yourself if you stretch even more. You may even see a bright shining light behind your head to suggest you’ve become a saint, but on serious note, the conclusion that you will draw about this whole engagement with yourself is that you are always more than what you think you are in the given moment. What proves this statement to be completely accurate, is the fact that once you had found it difficult to imagine how difficult it would be to ‘do’ or ‘achieve’ something and here you are today, having totally defeated that limiting belief. I like this statement which I always tell people who have stage fear, “Every good speaker, was a bad speaker at some point of time in life”. That perception about yourself which was nothing but a limiting belief, was your ‘reality’ at a given point in time, exactly like that school teacher. In NLP, we learn something called as the brain being a Quantum machine. What does that mean? It means that the brain actually has infinite potential because of the trillions of neurons capable of multi-trillion pathways. How much are we actually able to utilize the potential of the brain would be a good discussion to have. But this concept actually proves that we are much more than what we actually think we are at a given point of time.
By the way, because we are on the topic of subjective realities, have you realized that your perception about other people talks tonnes about who you are yourself? Here is a nice example and it happened to me believe it or not. The other day, I went for a movie in one of the movie theatres close to my house and I was with my wife. I had booked the seats online and these days you are able to choose your seats looking at the map of the theatre. So, I had chosen one aisle seat and one next to it. Obviously, aisle seat has only one seat next to it. The second seat has two seats on each side, one being the aisle seat. When I parked my car, I thought to myself, let there be a woman sitting in the 3rd seat, so that my wife could sit next to her and I could enjoy the aisle seat. Interesting thought! Wonder why I thought like that? We’ll see. So, it turned out that there was a man sitting on the 3rd seat. Instantly, I moved inside and sat next to the man and let my wife sit on the aisle seat. Take a minute and think, if you were in my place, why would you do that? I know people would say, “This is what men do. They are very territorial in such cases”. Point taken, but I will tell you why majority of the men do something like this. It is because we know how we are. We know we check out women and our reptilian brain is sometimes (metaphorically) the size of a coconut. We know how we would react (or feel) if a woman came and sat next to us in a movie theatre or on an airplane. Hence, we are somewhere careful about such situations when we are on the other side of the table. I am not saying all men would do such a thing or all men are the same. But some of us definitely are and what we perceive about ourselves, we project in our everyday life. Now, I am not a woman, but I am sure a lot of women would do the same, because of their perception of others and hence themselves, or vice-versa. There you are. So, next time you call names, or bitch about anyone, think about how do you know about the concept in the first place. Our experiences with others give us some clarity about ourselves.
Tell me, if I were to ask you to look in the corner of your room and imagine there was an alien over there, can you describe that alien to me? That definition about an alien is your perception of what aliens probably look like. How do you know that? You’ve probably seen the alien of a similar description in some movie or in some picture. Or perhaps you may have really seen an alien. Yeah right! Another example of what we perceive is what we project. You know, a lot of people working in sales (involuntarily) don’t like doing that job. The reason is, they know how they themselves would treat a tele-caller trying to sell them something and that probably has resulted in their perception about the job profile. I had coached one such Sales Professional who wasn’t motivated to do his job. Well, before drawing conclusions that the person is in the wrong career, it is worth taking a shot at loosening the mindset (perceptions) and then seeing if the motivations change. So, I asked him, “In your industry, what is the hit-rate per 10 calls you make”? According to him it was 4. The Aha moment came for him when I said, tomorrow when you start making the calls, instead of looking for the ‘Yeses’ look for the ‘Nos’. Because when someone declines your service, you can say to yourself, “Good this one is out of the way, now only 5 to go”. Well, the situation remains the same but the way you look at it is changed and hence the motivation levels are different. Sachin Tendulkar had ‘tampered’ with the subjective realities of the teammates when they were chasing 359 in the World Cup final against Australia in 2003. His way of looking at it was very crisp. He asked, “Are we capable of hitting 50 boundaries in 50 overs?” The answer was yes. Which means, you just need to make 159 runs in 250 balls. Simple Target isn’t it? Unfortunately, we lost that match but at least people shoved off their subjective realities and perceptions that you may not be able to achieve the target. The batsmen walked out to chase with certain conviction and roadmap.
It is very important for all of us to question our subjective realities in various walks of life (like Politics, Religion, Relationships, Parenting, Leadership etc.) so that we don’t get into trouble, the way explained by Mark Twain. I mentioned ‘relationships’ and the title of this blog also talks about a particular relationship. Relationships very often go on a bitter path because of clash of subjective realities. Always remember, you have your reality, I have mine and there is something called as the CCTV camera. Genuineness probably can be achieved by continuously questioning the authenticity of our perceptions. Maybe, there will be someone who will come out with GQ (Genuineness Quotient) assessment test in future which could be based on cognitive disparities, distortions and integrities. Just kidding! I wonder if that is possible in the first place. Because in that assessment, the questions/statements would mean something according to the assessor’s model of the world and that probably will be a subjective reality. Alright! I would like to sign off with the statement, “You would love people or be friendly with them not because they are good, but because you are good”. Someone might add a statement after that, “Also, you would hate people, not because you are bad, because it is proven in the first statement that you are good”!
Have a great Day!