Burbank, California; January 11, 2002; Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student
How many mornings did you get up, looking in the mirror and thinking, ?Oh boy, how can I present myself to the world looking like that? How can I ever be successful if this is what I am?? And how many mornings did you get up, looking in the mirror and thinking, "Today is the day! I can feel it in my bones, in my toes, in my fingertips. I'll sweep them of their feet!"
Do you recall what in both cases the day looked like? On mornings like the ones described first, you could actually just go back to bed and sleep the day away, because whatever it was that surrounded you, was negative and wouldn't help you to reach your goal at all. On mornings like the second, you could just not go wrong. Your smile, your touch, your complete presentation charmed each and everyone around you!
What was the difference? No, not a new, expensive dress or suit you recently bought. And not a recent visit to the beautician. Not the new pair of shoes and not the weight you just lost. In fact it may have been a day on which you just dressed in something you had been wearing many times before, gained some extra pounds, and had a pimple on your nose.
But it was your perception that made the difference! The way you looked at yourself. Your understanding of who you are. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines perception as: [the] ability to see, hear or understand, or [the] quality understanding, or [one?s] way of seeing or understanding something (Hornby, 1989). Fieser & Dowden (2001) elucidate that "[I]n philosophy, "perception" is defined as the complex method of obtaining information about our surrounding world, specifically through our senses, and apprehending this information as beliefs ". (par.1) According to Fieser & Dowden?s (2001) explanation,
"[T]he main philosophical problem with this notion of perception is that we should not accept our perceptions as being reliable, since (1) it is possible for us to misperceive objects in the world, (2) our senses are susceptible to illusions (e.g. hallucinations), and (3) it is unclear how much epistemological value perceptions have, or how much belief, if any, should be rooted in that which we perceive." (par.1)
The philosophical definition of perception becomes even more interesting if we consider that there is a ?common-sense or direct realist theory [which] maintains that the world is as it is perceived, [thereby assuming] that there is a world with objects that exists independently of human perceptions.? Fieser & Dowden (2001)
Nevertheless, no matter how the phenomenon of perception is defined, we all have our own, and it's all we have. It?s our own personal reality. Everything in life, for each of us, depends on our perception. What one sees as a disaster, another one perceives as an opportunity. How many times haven?t we come across wise quotations that teach us that we should treat every challenge as an opportunity? That?s just a call for a transformation of perception from the negative way of looking at things, to a positive way of dealing with them.
As clarified by Fieser & Dowden, perception doesn?t only influence the way we look at- and understand ourselves. It affects other people, issues, and situations as well. Newsweek recently wrote: ?One?s terrorist may be another?s hero.? Another remarkable example of the importance of perception. When you?re the underdog, you tend to see the successful ones as crooks who took advantage of your weakness and robbed you from your fair chances. When you?re on the prosperous side, however, you tend to think of the suffering ones as lazy, ignorant, dumb and full of self-pity. Perception again.
Perception seems to have everything to do with our own selfish way of looking at everything. It may be influenced by the culture in which we grew up, and our personal characteristics. It may change within the same person over time, due to exposure to other cultures, people, or continuing education. But it?s always there. It?s easiest understood through the worn-out example of 4 people who witnessed the same accident, but all 4 of them giving another story of how it happened. Perception. They see things through their historically and personally tainted lenses.
It works, as much as anywhere else, in business too. Brabeck-Letmathe (2001) explains that ?[b]rands, like companies, evolve continuously both in perception and presentation.? What Brabeck-Letmathe, who is vice-chairman and chief executive of Nestle and a member of The Marketing Society, warns for, is that old companies with established brands, should not live with the assumption that the way their product was perceived 50 years ago will be the same today. He emphasizes the importance of nurturing their products and making sure their marketing is up-to-date, so that the positive perception will be maintained.
Perception can be difficult to deal with. Imagine a situation where an employee perceives his or her job description different than how the supervisor understands it. Or being part of a team where there?s clear divergence in the perception of what is a ?good end product.? Some of us are perfectionists and want the outcome to be as thorough and perfect as can be. Others are satisfied if the minimum requirements are met.
Perception has been known to represent completely different insights from people who have been together for a long time. A man may think his marriage is good because the wife never complains, his dinner?s ready when he comes home, his clothes are washed and ironed, and he can watch sports every night. His wife, on the other hand, may be the unhappiest person in the world, because this was not what she had understood as to be ?the perfect marriage.? She may have dreamed of doing more things together, having long talks, and going out regularly.
Although I haven?t mastered them yet (and probably never totally will), I did come up with some sort of list on how one can boost up one?s self-perception.
Break a leg!
Brabeck-Letmathe, P. (2001, Dec. 13, 2001). Marketers must avoid pitfalls of evolving a brand. Marketing, 18.
Hay, L. (1984). You Can Heal Your Life (H. Delyser & M. Hamoen, Trans.). Carson, CA.: Hay House, Inc.
Hornby, A. S. (1989). Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
James Fieser, g. e., & Bradley Dowden, a. g. e. (2001, 2001). Perception, [Internet]. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available: http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/p/percept.htm [2002, January 11].
Unknown. (1998, 20 October 1998). Self-Perception, [Internet]. Available: http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/ardelt/III_Self/tsld007.htm [2002, 11 January].