Thursday, 9 April 2009

How a Shift in Your Perception Can Empower You

I had a personal aha moment while coaching a client today. As I was citing an example I had a moment of revelation. It amazed me that I hadn't thought about this particular situation in this manner before.

At school I naturally had different English teachers. My marks were generally good but when I had one particular teacher my marks were always lower than usual. What's more, a certain group of individuals in the class always received better marks than I did. It was frustrating. And this was a pattern that repeated itself several times.

I perceived that the teacher has a bias towards these individuals and, to be fair, other situations supported this view. Now this view could have been true or false but what happened is that I resigned myself to the fact that when I had this teacher I would receive lower marks. It's not that I didn't try to get better marks but the expectation was always at the back of my mind that my grades would be relatively low.

Today I realised that, whether or not the teacher did indeed have a prejudice, I affected my results. I expected lower marks and I wasn't disappointed. Like it or not I attracted those marks.

"Our thoughts create our reality - where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go."
Peter McWilliams

Now, it could have been that this particular teacher wanted me to work harder, to really stretch myself. She might have been trying to communicate to me that to excel I had to do more than the ordinary. If I did this the outcome may have still been the same regarding my marks but I would have certainly grown more.

I could have been more proactive about this matter and actually asked her what it would take to get higher marks. I recall an episode of ER where Dr Peter Benton played by Eric La Salle was confronted by one of his mentees and asked why he was so hard on him. I don't recall the exact dialogue but Dr Benton effectively told him that the reason why he was tough on him was because he wanted him to excel and not be content with mediocrity. Aha!

My teacher has passed on but her influence continues to live. Whatever, this teacher's motive I am grateful for the lessons she has taught me. This shift in perception is causing me to look at other situations in a new light.

I think even my teacher would appreciate the irony in the following quote:

"To begin with, our perception of the world is deformed, incomplete. Then our memory is selective. Finally, writing transforms."
Claude Simon

There may be situations in your life right now where a shift in your perception could make all the difference to how you feel and how you consequently act. So take a new look at any situation that may be troubling you. See how a change in your perception can help you to overcome the challenge presented. It's so much more empowering to be at cause rather than effect.


  1. "Perception is projection!" If only we would remind ourselves of that more often. If only we could remember that we are the ones deciding on what our experience means... our life would be so much diferent :)

  2. Thanks, for your feedback Kami.

    "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."
    William Blake