Anyone who has studied marketing management must have read the story of a footwear manufacturing company sending two of their sales managers to an African country for exploring the market there. One of the managers, as soon as he lands there, sends a fax message to the company stating that: ‘No one wears footwear here, there is no market; hence please send me the return flight ticket immediately.’ The other manager’s fax message was, however, different: ‘Nobody wears footwear here, huge market totally untapped, send the first consignment immediately.’ Same company, same product, same market, but the two managers saw two different worlds!
Analyze another case study: John and Natesh are good friends. Once, they met by the lake-side to discuss some future plans. They saw an unbelievable scene – a dog walking on the water and catching a duck and walking back! John said, ‘what a wonder, of course, that dog must have been trained to walk on water, however it’s still a miracle.’ Natesh without showing any excitement, commented, ‘it seems the dog doesn’t know swimming.’
After a few minutes a luxury car stopped near the lake and a happy family stepped out. They started enjoying their time and John, who was looking at them, dreamt of that day when he would take his family in a luxury car and enjoy an evening out close to the lake. He sighed, ‘how lucky that family is, how happy they are, life should be like this.’ Meanwhile, Natesh commented with anguish: ‘Money is not the biggest thing in life, people make money through unethical means. In fact, anyone who is rich, must have made money through illegal ways.’ In both situations mentioned above, we can see that John and Natesh respond in contrasting ways. Why does it happen?
When the situation is the same, how come two people respond in different ways at the same point of time? Even if you show the same picture to two different persons, one will see something in the picture, which the other may not. You can hear statements of dissatisfaction between a husband and a wife who have been married for the last twenty years like, ‘even after living with me for the last twenty years, why can’t you understand what I am saying or trying to say?’
One of your friends is sharing with you an unbelievable business opportunity, which you can do along with your present job. You find the offer exciting as you have been looking for a way to get out of the present frustrating job which was sickening you every single day. You are driving back home dreaming and feeling confident that those dreams may come true if you do this business. On reaching home your wife is quite amazed to see your excitement. You just explode with excitement and blurt out, ‘You know what, our dreams will be fulfilled. Raj showed me a wonderful business opportunity, through which we can fulfil all our dreams. Let me explain to you.’ She turns back without
showing any interest, ‘you don’t need to explain and you are not doing any business. Any business is risky. You know my dad, how many new business ventures he got into but he couldn’t succeed and we ended up with more and more liabilities as he moved from one business to another. I won’t allow you to do anything other than a job, Period.’ You are wondering why this woman is not even allowing
her husband to share the idea and try the opportunity at least; you reach the conclusion that she has a closed mind.
CHANGE PERCEPTION, CHANGE EXPERIENCE
Different people see the same situation in different ways. It is something, we all experience daily. What I have observed is that the way people who have been successful interpret things is totally different from the way a normal person sees it. A normal person gets completely knocked down by adversities in life but for a successful person it is just another challenge and he would somehow try to find an underlying opportunity in an adverse situation as well. While, a person who is scared of adversities finds himself a hapless victim of the circumstances life puts him in, on the other hand, a successful person tries and uses the circumstances to his advantage. That is why I always believe in the philosophy, ‘you are not the product of the circumstances, but you are the product of the choices you make NOW.’ Adverse situations and circumstances are going to be there all the time. Every moment is a different situation in your life. It is not the circumstance which makes the difference in your life; but the way you ‘interpret’ and ‘perceive’ things which makes all the difference. It is not the picture which makes you tell whether the picture is of an old woman or young woman, it is how you visualise it. Every person has got a different perceptual reality. In fact, your perceptions or rather your sensory perceptions create that reality for you. It may not be necessarily real. Based on your perceptions you are creating your own world, every second.
YOUR PERCEPTION CREATES YOUR REALITY
There is a great quote by Dr Wayne Dyer that says – ‘When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’ It is a universal law that whatever you set your focus on grows. If you meet someone and decide to focus on their negative qualities, then you will begin to notice more unattractive qualities. If, however, you meet someone and choose to focus on their positive qualities you will notice more of their attractive qualities, and they will suddenly become a very attractive person to you. It is actually up to us as to how we choose to see and perceive things. We always get to choose how we see a person, place or a situation. Our perception determines our experience. Life is all about perceptions. If you look at a homeless person, for example, and you think to yourself ‘how disgusting’, ‘he/she is so dirty’, ‘why don’t they work somewhere, like everyone else’, ‘what a loser’, etc. Here, you are seeing a filthy, disgusting person who is inferior to you. If you look at that same homeless person, and you think to yourself, ‘I pray that they find food today’, ‘I wonder what situation occurred in their life to put them there’, ‘How may I serve that person’?
‘I admire their peacefulness’, ‘I respect their humanity’, etc., then all of a sudden they will look completely different to you. You will notice their inner beauty, you will respect them as your brother/sister, you will see their humanity, you will feel empathy and compassion towards them, you will see their beautiful soul as one with yourself. When you change the way you look at people, places or circumstances in your life, they will change accordingly and you will see hope in all. You will have the power to choose to see through the eyes of anger and fear, or through the eyes of compassion and love. The same feeling is experienced when one is in a romantic relationship. What happens often is, that after two people have been in a relationship for a long time, either one or both the individuals will start noticing some of the qualities in the other person that they find annoying. As they notice a few, they begin to see more flaws or look out for more flaws, then those qualities or the qualities not liked by the other person will seem to grow and become very exaggerated. Now the person, all of a sudden, will start appearing completely intolerable and if the couple happen to stay together at this stage, both will be miserable and unhappy, and the relationship will end. If you look at the beginning of most of the romantic relationships, it is the opposite. Both individuals only notice what they like about the other person, and the more they focus on those positive qualities, the more these qualities get exaggerated. Then, they fall in love and think the other person is the most amazing person on earth, because they are choosing to focus only on the positive qualities of the other person. Even two siblings, who are close to the same age, and grow up in an abusive environment; each sibling will grow up to be completely opposite. One sibling will grow up to have a very troubled life and the other will grow up to have a very successful life. Each sibling, in this situation, experiences very different outcomes, because they made different choices of their perception. It is your perception that creates your reality. Your perception creates your reality, not only with people, but also with how you observe situations and circumstances. There are positive and negative aspects to every situation, even with the ones that appear to be very horrible. We can choose to discover and focus on the positive, in any situation. The same theory is applicable for places as well. Your perception of any particular place will at times turn out to be the reality of that place. You can take two people and have them stand right next to each other at the same place, looking at the same things and they may have completely different views to share of that very same place. They have different experiences because they have different perceptions.
The most important thing to realise is that our perception is always a choice, we can stop at any moment and choose to have a different view of things. Your reality can be anything that you choose it to be, it all comes down to the perception that you choose to have.
Two men look out of a window. One sees mud, the other sees the stars.
– Oscar Wilde
The greatest revolution of your generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
– William James, American psychologist