To see the world in a grain of sand…

As a poet, philosopher and mystic I remain fascinated by these words.

As a physician, scientist and businessman the above lines spell “Danger”.

Everyday I meet clients who struggle with challenges in their lives because they fail to recognise the reality confronting them.

Very commonly they have mental filters and blinkers and emotional triggers that distort what they see, hear and feel.

Some of these processes were useful in a given context. Out of that context it became downright dangerous.

These processes include:

1) Deletion: Your brain has to make sense out of thousands of stimuli per second. So after awhile it screens out the repeated back ground “details”.

There are also things you don’t want to see or hear because they make you uncomfortable, so you screen that out as well.

As a result you don’t pay attention to your loved one when they are struggling with a real problem and get shocked when they get a heart attack and drop dead.

You don’t pay attention to how your client is presenting himself/herself and you miss vital clues that could help you close the sale. You kiss a thousand dollars goodbye.

2) Generalisation: You have always done it a certain way.

So you conclude that is the only way.
Something happened enough times in your life with enough intensity to create a neural pathway in your brain.

So you conclude that, “love hurts” because everyone you were close to dies or leaves.

You saw enough examples of unethical behaviour by rich people so you conclude “rich people are bad people”

You do not pay attention to the changes in the environment or people.

You fail to recognise major changes in the environment that would invalidate that particular marketing or business approach.

If you are “lucky” your business dips only 10% because you missed the trend.

If you are lucky, your wife only smiles at you sweetly (while she quietly curses) because you bought her a gift exactly like what her best friend is wearing. You did not keep track).

In the long term, these little things wear your business and your relationships down.

3) Distortion: 

This process is the basis for creativity. It creates great artist and poets you do Creative things with their imagination like Picasso and his Cubist style of painting.

On the other hand, it can also lead to major issues. One person’s model of accuracy is another’s model of obsessive compulsive attention to detail.

4) Projection: Whatever secret fears and anxieties you have, you deny having them. You ascribe it to the people around you.

You are an anxious person but you cannot accept it. Your cab driver looks at you and asks you if everything is fine and you conclude your cab driver is anxious.

So all these processes deletion, distortion and generalisation and to a lesser extent projection will determine what we allow into our world. In that sense they are filters. They end up forming our values, biases and beliefs.

On the other hand, based on those processes we will also design a future where all our biases, beliefs and values are validated. If that is so you cannot appreciably design a future that is very different from the past.

All your goal setting and planning becomes fatally flawed.

Which pill will you take? Red or Blue?