How To Overcome Your Weaknesses And Blind Spots
Are you hearing all the answers or just the ones you want to hear? Are you seeing all the possibilities or just the ones you’ve been conditioned to see?
I would submit that you don’t see what is, you see what you’ve been conditioned to see. For example, read this sentence one time. As you read, count the number of letter F’s that you see in the sentence.
Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combined with the experience of many years.
How many F’s did you see? There are six F’s in that sentence. If you don’t believe it, look carefully again. Why don’t you see them all the first time?
For years you’ve been reading English phonetically. The F in “of” is pronounced OV, not OF. And once your mind is conditioned OV, you build a blind spot to the F in the word “of.” Trying hard doesn’t do it. In fact, the better reader you are, the more likely you will miss it. You’re so caught up in the phonics that you block out the F’s. But a graphic designer, multi-linguist, sight reader, or proofreader might easily pick them up.
Seeing the Hole in the Rug
Once I came home from a trip and saw that Diane had company seated in our living room right in front of the fireplace. I decided to join them. As I was drinking a glass of wine with the company, I noticed that while I was gone, somebody burned a big hole in our carpet. Diane did not even mention it when I talked to her on the phone. And she was now just drinking wine with the company, as if nothing had happened.
I got upset. but not wanting to make a fool of myself in front of the company, I whispered to Diane, “Can we talk in the hall for a minute?”
Once out of earshot, I asked, “What in the hell happened to our rug?”
She said, “Didn’t I tell you when you called?”
Now what difference would that have made? Even if she had told me about the hole, what could I have done about it on the airplane? Nothing, except imagine the hole in my mind and be prepared for the shock.
Diane then explained how it happened. “Bob Olson, who used to work for us, was cleaning the fireplace. He put the ashes from the night before into a plastic bucket. He then moved the bucket off the hearth onto the rug to sweep the hearth. But the hot cinders from the night before burned a hole in the bucket . . . and in our rug.”
Before I could respond, she continued, “I called the man at the rug repair store, and he promised that he’d fix it tomorrow.”
Now why would she say that? So I could see a resolution to the problem. But I wasn’t falling for that, and she knew it. So she went right out into the hall, brought in a small oriental rug, and put it over the hole in the carpet. How come? No feedback, no problem.
If you don’t see the hole in the rug, you tend to forget there’s a problem. In fact, after a week you get used to the oriental rug and become blind to the hole. That’s called a scotoma.
Sometimes we lock on to tradition. “It’s the way we’ve always done it. If there were another way, we’d see it, wouldn’t we?” The answer is no. Sometimes we make snap judgments by locking on too quickly and closing our minds to other options.
The Pygmalion Principle
In your mind, if you get a picture of how you want something to turn out, if you hold that picture in your mind, the way you behave toward the people in the situation will often illicit the behavior you expect of them. This is known as the Pygmalion principle.
The person named Pygmalion exists only in Greek mythology. Pygmalion was such a good sculptor that one time he sculpted the statue of a lady with such beauty and likeness that the guy fell in love with the statue and wanted to marry it. So, along came the goddess of love, took an arrow, shot it into the heart of the statue and transformed the statue into a real woman.
The Pygmalion principle is this: when we treat other people in ways that are consistent with the image we hold of them, they tend to behave and become like the image.
Remember the movie My Fair Lady based on the Pygmalion principle? Remember Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins? Professor Higgins thought he was such a good manager, coach, and teacher that he could take the lowliest flower girl off the streets of London, and, by improving her speech and manners and appearance, pass her off as royalty. So he did. And he won his bet. But when Eliza was talking to her friend, she said, “I will always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he’ll always see me and treat me like a flower girl. But I will always be a lady to you because you always see me and treat me like a lady.”
Professor Higgins never let go of his perception of Eliza at the entry level. Don’t you do that sometimes to the people around you? You hold an image of what they were, and you don’t allow them to change and progress. You may also do that to yourself. You know every mistake you’ve ever made. You know all your messes, your fears, and your shortcomings. You know what went wrong and you carry that with you in this historical self-image, and you don’t allow yourself to rise above it.
Are you constantly blinding yourself to aspects of the truth that don’t match what you believe? For example, do you ever look for something, and tell yourself you lost it? As soon as you say, “I lost it,” your subconscious becomes blind to the object. Your subconscious is more concerned with proving that you aren’t crazy for believing what you believe than with discovering the truth. So, if you tell yourself that you’ve lost your keys, what would make you look crazy? Finding them! Your subconscious says, “Oh, you lost your keys?” and so it builds a blind spot to your keys. The keys can be six inches away, but you won’t see them. Then somebody will come along and say, ”Here they are. You’re looking right at them!” And you will then say, “Who moved them? They weren’t there a minute ago.”
Our image of present reality is only a partial picture. Our physical senses are limited. For example, we can only see between red and violet. Even when there’s light beyond the red-violet spectrum, without augmenting our vision with special glasses or scopes, we might deny it existed. If we want to see details of the planets, we need a telescope; if we want to see inside the human body, we need an X-ray; if we want to look into a living cell, we need a microscope. So, what else are we missing about reality?
We hear low-pitch sound at about 50 vibrations per second and high-pitch at about 19,500. Did you ever blow a dog whistle? You hear no sound come out, and yet the dog responds because dogs hear at about 24,000 vibrations per second well beyond our range. Bats hear at 80,000, and some porpoises at an even higher rate. There are sounds in our environment we don’t even know about.
Our sense of smell is also very limited compared to animals who rely on it for protection and to find food. A world record holder for the sense of smell is the male silkworm moth, who can detect the odor of the female moth more than a mile away. And that female moth emits only .001 of a milligram of the odor-producing chemical!
Our senses are limited in detecting the outside reality in which we live our lives. We still haven’t discovered all there is to be discovered, and we can’t perceive all there is to perceive. So we can’t go by what is apparent. What is apparent may be only what we’ve allowed ourselves to see.