“Perception is reality,” is an old phrase known to all marketing and sales people.
Marketing folks seek to frame their presentation in ways that we will perceive their offering in the best possible light; most favorable to the outcome they desire. And how we perceive something is dependent on our perspective. Perspective, then, is everything.
Three instances in the last week have brought this home to me more vividly than ever before.
The first one occurred on the morning of May 6. I was walking my dog very slowly because my bike injury has yet to heal completely, though getting better every day. Suddenly, I saw a bicycle, what is sometimes called a beach cruiser, in the middle of the roadway. It was totally out of context and I had difficulty processing why someone would leave an apparently good bike in the middle of the road, with its kickstand down and standing upright. I saw a note taped to the seat and walked over to it. There was some writing on the back which made no sense. Then, a middle-aged man drove up, going the other way, stopped, got out and began to put the bike in the back of his pick-up. He said the sign said “Free.” I had yet to see that side of the page. I walked on, realizing that my perspective was not the accurate one in this situation.
The second example happened later last week in a conversation with a urologist. Many people, as they age, find themselves awakening in the middle of the night to empty their bladders. A doctor told me many people come to him to “fix the problem.” He suggests that this perspective may not be the correct one.
Obviously, every instance stands on its own. But, as people age, they sleep less and they’re likely to be awakened more easily by sounds that didn’t disturb them in earlier years. Like a creaking house or snoring.
When I was young, there was a major fire across the street from my house; I slept right through the tumult created by the fire department — today, I’d be awake in a flash. And haven’t you heard the expression that “I get my best ideas in my sleep?” Now, once awake, you decide to honor the bladder urge so you can go back to sleep. Thus, instead of thinking that there is something medically wrong with us, we might accept the aging process as natural and move on.
Again, a matter of perspective.
The third example that fits in to this discussion is in the context of the family environment. When I was a practicing lawyer, dealing with others’ marital issues, I often found that one or the other of the parties felt the “victim.”
Usually with the help of a psychologist, when the aggrieved party came to the realization that they couldn’t control the other party, but that they could take charge of their own life and their own feelings, the dynamics of the family environment changed. When you can believe that you have no control over the other party, but you do have control over your own feeling and your own actions, there is a marvelous transformation that occurs.
Sometimes, there is separation; sometimes, there is reconciliation. But, there will be change. Here, too, perception becomes reality.
And haven’t we all talked about their being “two sides to every story.” This is why we have lawsuits and courts to resolve differences … differences caused by alternative perspectives which lead to different versions of reality. Then, it’s up to the trier of fact to decide which version is more acceptable under the circumstances.
Perspective is everything.