On perception



Why a 2x wheelchair-backflip might be a better argument than a 2x mtb-frontflip and why the trusting vs. the trusted is the new poor vs. the powerful...

Last week, the Masters of Dirt published a video on Youtube announcing the world's first 2x mountainbike frontflip. The related videos-box on Youtube recommends watching Aaron Fotheringham's world's first 2x wheelchair backflip as well.
Why am I talking about this?
Both videos are great documentations about getting things done and not giving up. Try, loose, wipe off the dust, try again. These are true action heroes - but there are many other ways to perceive that.

  • What do we see here? Heroes on their way to new achievements? Poor creatures' failures that satisfy our schadenfreude? (That would never have come to my mind, but it was the first reaction of a friend...)
  • What do you see? Danger and pain? Or necessary steps on a new road?
  • Do you admire them for trying hard (and finally succeeding)? Or do you think they should not do something they obviously cannot do?
  • And do you have any idea why these are the first successful attempts?

The last question is probably the most important one. If you don't bike, a frontflip maybe does not mean a lot to you. We are used to the fact that there are crazy bastards around who try funny things. Nobody forces them, and after all they are making money with it. No big deal.

The same might apply to the wheelchair-guy. But from a moral perspective, there is a dramatic difference. We are way more likley to accept, that a new challenge is personally important to him, that he really wants this, that it is one of the chances that allow him to stand out. (It's actually not nice to think that way, because it puts wheelchair drivers in the role of passive, dependent, care-needing creatures, but that's a different story).

The point I want to make is: We need some basic know how, some understanding and some experience, if we want to understand what others do, if we want to be inspired or alerted. If it does not mean a thing to us - the most important part in this judgement is "to us". We need to put ourselves in an active position, to wait not only for entertaining results, but to take care about the single steps. Action is not about a show only, it's about acting - doing one step after the other...
If we don't care, that is not a proposition about whatever it is that we don't care about, it's a proposition about us. If you don't care about the mountainbiker - that's fine. I would not really care (if I did not now that I should) about a snowboarder doing tricks - because I'm not into that. - No-brainer? Well, but why are we likely to care more about the wheelchair driver, even if we're less likely to be one? Well, we probably have some assumptions about what it might be like to be tied to a wheelchair, that makes us feel some connection.
That's good on the one hand. But quite dangerous on the other side: There are always some assumptions, assumptions are something you don't talk about or question - so how should we know if they are right? And how should others know our assumptions or how should we know the assumptions of others?
Time to get practical once again: So what does it mean if a colleague is enthusiastically presenting a new idea - and you just don't care?
We have several answers to that:

  • You've seen it all
  • You know why it will not work
  • Your idea is way better

I think in most cases, you just have no idea what the other one is talking about.
Pretty annoying and paralyzing. How to get out of here? It's always the same answer: Get out, act, participate. The good thing is: For most business decision you will not have to learn how to do a backflip - you just have to use new products, play with prototypes and test new workingstyles.
If you don't, you will have to trust. And the trusting vs. the trusted is the new poor vs. the powerful...

PS: That's of course another version of the agents-idea. If you want to learn more about the agents idea and the Agents' Manual - support me at the Next Conference...!

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