Perception is Reality

“Perception is Reality.” I have often hated that saying.  Growing up in a pastor’s home, there were periodic conversations about ensuring that the perception of what were we doing was as clear as the truth.  It would infuriate me.   Why did it matter if it looked like I was doing or being something, what mattered was if I actually was doing something wrong.  I hated be bound to the perception of those around us.

My rebellion against this Perception is Reality mindset is that I often don’t regard what people think about me as I do things.  Ask many of my friends and they will say shake their head and agree that I don’t always follow the normal.   It isn’t that I don’t fit in to society but more when I decide to do something I don’t stop and think “What will so and so think of me as I do this”…I just do it.

Japan FlagThis morning I was reading an article about the new Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.  Japan has been experiencing a significant economic downturn over the years as a result of natural disasters, slumping stock markets, shrinking population, and growing irrelevance abroad.  Since Mr. Abe took office in December 2012, he has taken on this economy with vigor.  The key to his change is based on the belief that getting out of this economic funk is less about policy details than perception.  It is about shaking people out of a deflationary mindset.

This change based on perception has had a remarkable impact in 5 months.  The stock market is growing and Mr. Abe’s ratings are at 70% which is higher than any recent politician.  The change in thought pattern to perception vs the policy seems to be working.

At the same time, I am reading a book called the “Quiet Leadership”.  Mr. Rock provides scientific studies that indicate that people operate based on their perception of reality and not reality itself.  As he explains it make sense, if I don’t perceive I can do something I won’t even try.  But if I truly believe I can, I will fight until it is done.

I think as business owners and leaders we often try to change the process without addressing the perceptions that hinder our business, people, or selves from accomplishing our goals.

As I look back to my younger years, I realized that what I hated was being bound by other people’s perceptions.  The question today is what personal perceptions bind me?  Could I change the face of my life and business by simply changing my own perceptions?