Okay, I agree.
That’s a mouthful of a title but heck, sometimes it just is what it is.
Recently I had the rare opportunity to try out a little bit of a social experiment so that I could truly appreciate one of the things that I lecture, write about and teach. That is the difference between what people perceive as the truth versus what the truth actually is.
Let me say right at the outset that this was actually harder for me to do than I first anticipated.
Many of you will be aware that I am a creative at my core, from painting and art to photography and music. Pretty much anything creative is where my heart lies. The other side of the coin is that I also spent a long time over the years as a software consultant and designer. Recently, I had a chance to try out a little something that I wanted to experience firsthand.
How easy would it be to change a perceived truth about myself from a totally negative viewpoint to the complete opposite?
Well, the answer may surprise and hopefully inspire you.
So to set the scene, I was invited back to consult on a major IT project that I had worked on previously, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Unknown to the client that I was truly not working in that field 100% of the time any longer and truly had no desire whatsoever to go back to that!
So in I went, eyes wide open and totally clueless at the same time. I still performed absolutely every task that they required to my utmost, however, I decided that I wouldn’t show the enthusiasm that marked my previous performances over the years.
Let me reiterate –
I was giving them exactly what I was paid to give them but without looking excited over it or taking it to the next level for them. In essence, I was doing the exact work that I was paid for – no more, no less.
Talk about an immediate eye-opener. The atmosphere in the company took a nose-dive, as far as I was concerned. People stopped making eye contact with me or even responding on the odd occasion when I uttered an unenthusiastic ‘good morning’.
Now let me make it totally clear, I wasn’t being anti-social or stand offish in any way just not showing the level of input and enthusiasm for the work.
It wasn’t too long into this little bit of an experiment that I was pulled into a formal conversation with the powers that be. That was my cue for the change. The starting line for me. I was practically on the verge of being walked out without further ado.
Time to switch back on. The starter’s gun had gone off.
Doing some very quick talking, which of course I had been preparing for from the beginning and had every conceivable angle covered, I managed to turn them around and to give me another chance.
Now here I was about to put the second part of my experiment into effect.
Just how quickly could I get this whole company turned around?
Well, I’m actually surprised by the amount of time if truth be told. I was expecting it to take at least 2 weeks of concerted effort on my part. Now pay attention to this next bit as it is extremely important,
at no point did I actually put in any extra effort to the work that I was performing. That was always being done 100%.
All that I did change was my engagement when interacting with certain individuals. Nothing more nothing less.
So you know it didn’t take 2 weeks. So how long did it take?
1 week? 3 Days? 2 Days?
Would you believe me when I told you that within the first day it had turned around?
Let me restate that:
It took less than one day of concerted effort in my engagement with this client to turn around a situation where I was on the brink of being walked out to being offered an extension on my consultation!
That is the power of perception. It’s not about what you do, but rather how you are perceived to be doing it.
Perception is Truth as far as others are concerned. You can use this to your advantage if you pay attention to it!