Friday, March 07, 2008

Perception and Reality

Understanding your own personal reality is an essential step in becoming successful. If we do not understand who we are and what our place is in the universe, then we will consistently search and struggle to find meaning in our lives. The importance of knowing our reality is great, because it allows us to make realistic decisions which then leads to realistic opportunities.

Unfortunately, understanding our reality is struggle enough, so when others perceive our reality as something we know it is not, our challenges to change external perception become even greater than understanding our own reality.

At this point in life we all should know that perception is no way to judge a person’s merit, but let’s not kid ourselves either and realize that to others, perception is reality.

Look at the lemming for example. We all believe that the lemming is an animal that commits mass suicide as one by one the jump off of cliffs to their death. This is the perception we have of the lemming and even have allowed our vocabulary identify followers as lemmings.

The truth about the lemming is this. The idea that they commit mass suicide is pure fiction. This fallacy was fueled in 1958 by the Disney documentary White Wilderness. In this movie, lemmings were imported into Alberta where their “migration” was produced by filmmakers. Their mass suicide was a product of creative “herding” where the lemmings were forced off of a cliff and into the sea below to create the illusion of follow the leader. Anyone with a map can recognize that Alberta has no outlet to the sea, so their plunge would have been quite a leap, and anyone who was interested in doing some research would also know that Alberta is not a native habitat for the lemming.

Despite reality, for the past 50 years, lemmings have been the reference for many followers of the human race. Even though science has proven myth from reality, the lemming can’t erase the reality that has been bestowed upon them by perception.

If we are to take anything from the lemming, we need to understand that the perception we show to the rest of the world, in many cases will become our reality to others. When we take our perception lightly in any facet of life, it has the ability to stick with us despite any efforts we might make to show our true selves to those around us.

In every action we take, someone is not only watching us, but judging us based on those actions. By slacking off, cutting corners, cheating, lying, or acting in a way that isn’t who we are, we are making ourselves susceptible to external perceptions that will become external realities. If our legacy is to be an accurate one, we must present ourselves for who we really are so that others have no choice but to perceive us for who we really are. Unlike the lemming, we have a say in the matter of perception and reality.

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