Learning to See

We only perceive the things that we are programmed to perceive.

We recognize only the things for which we have mental maps and categories.

As such, mental maps and categories govern our perception.

Therefore, understanding the mental maps and categories that govern our behavior, the behavior of our communities, and those that lead us is paramount to seeing the world as it is

A simple example to explain what I mean:

Pro wrestling is fake.

Somewhere around the age of 8 or 10 years old, someone told us that pro wrestling was fake.
Each of our reactions likely differed – disbelief, confusion, anger or sadness.
However, because we trusted the person that delivered the news, we decided to put in the effort to see for ourselves.
Suddenly, we see that every move and every interaction is scripted.
We see that the elbow drops don’t make contact.
We see the fake blood.

The thing is, once you see that it’s fake, that it’s scripted, that it’s all invented – you understand how it works and you think about it differently.
From that moment on you can no longer unsee what you had previously failed to see.
Your perception is forever altered.

A few questions to consider:

What is school really for (here’s a hint)?
What really drives the economy?
What does television distract us from? How to broadcasters make money? (here’s a thought)

What does that tell us about their incentives?To educate? To entertain?
Why do we go to war?
Why is the national defense budget larger than and grows at a faster and more consistent rate than the budget for education (by a rate of 6 to 1, if you’re curious)?

The biggest barrier to learning how to see is fear.
It’s scary to see the world as it is.
It makes us confront the assumptions that we may have inaccurately grown accustomed to.
It forces us to ask why, the answer to which is usually not readily available or emotionally comforting.
Most importantly, it forces us to change our behavior and to act as if.
To act as if we have the power to change how other people see the world.
To act as if we don’t have to do things merely because “that’s how they have always been done.”
To act as if we care.

As we learn to see, our posture is forever changed.

As I see it, there are only two options:

1. Embrace the tension
2. Keep believing that pro wrestling is real

The choice is yours.

Scaling Up Your Life

In its simplest form, economies of scale is a phenomenon whereby the efficiency of a large scale producer, which is attained over time, allows it to spread out the high-cost basis of its capital expenditures over a larger per unit basis, lowering the per unit cost. With economies of scale, a widget that cost $1.00 to manufacture now only cost $0.25.

Simply, a company attains the ability to do more with less. It attains a competitive advantage.

The same phenomenon exists in our personal lives.

Reading scales.

The more books you read, the more knowledge you have –  the richer your perspective. Your ability to problem solve, be creative, and do work that matters increases at a multiple higher than the number of books you have read.  Knowledge becomes a competitive advantage.

Exercising scales.

The more you run the healthier you are. The more in-shape you become. Your ability to run faster and further increases. Being healthy and in-shape becomes a competitive advantage.

Relationships scale.

Writing scales.

Eating healthy scales.

Public speaking scales.

Being generous and empathic scales.

However, not everything we do in our personal lives scales.

Watching Netflix doesn’t scale.

You watch one episode. Then two episodes. But what comes next? More episodes? There’s no change. There’s no improvement. There’s no competitive advantage from watching Netflix.

Watching cable news doesn’t scale.

You watch it. Your fear increases. You feel helpless. What’s next?

Reassurance doesn’t scale.

Likes do not scale.

Follows do not scale.

Re-tweets do not scale.

It turns out that the things we are afraid of. The things that are hard to do. The things that take time. Are the things that scale. The things in which the more we do them, the better we become.

How much of your day do you spend doing things that are going to make your better?

Things that are going to increase your ability to connect with others?

Things that are going to increase your ability to create the world you want to see?

Things that help you leap?

Things that scale?