What we see determines our response. Is it then safe to say our interactions, actions and inaction are influenced by how we see the world? I share this excerpt from Seth Godin’s ICARUS DECEPTION. Yes! Seth Godin again. He almost always has something to say, hence the incessant references to him. Anyway, I hope a word, a phrase, a line or two are useful in raising questions in your mind like they have in mine. Enjoy:
Every time I walk into a bookstore, I notice things. I notice typography. Pricing. The thickness of books and the type of cover stock being used. I notice where the salespeople are standing and how smart they are. I notice the guy on the couch, buying nothing but reading a lot. What’s he reading? I eavesdrop on conversations, listen in on what’s being hand sold.
Paco Underhill has turned noticing into an art. His company, Envirosell, monitors tens of thousands of hours of silent retail-store security-camera footage, noticing how people shop. Women, for example, don’t like it if another shopper brushes against them while they’re browsing. So Paco persuaded a client to widen the aisles (oh no, less inventory!) to eliminate the butt brush. The result? Increased revenue even though there were fewer items for sale.
Woody Guthrie was the most important folk singer of the twentieth century. But before he accomplished that, he visited forty-five states, learned tens of thousands of songs, and immersed himself in native and immigrant cultures. Without that foundation, he would never have had the tools to create his art.
The difficult part of seeing is setting aside what you’re sure you already know. When the Web was young, I was already an “expert.” I had built successful online promotions and run them on Prodigy, AOL, and CompuServe. So I knew what I was talking about. Or at least I thought I did.
Browsing around online in 1993, I didn’t see. All I could understand about the Web was that it was free, slow, clunky, and without a center. Of course it wasn’t going to work. Every dumb stunt I saw online reinforced my skepticism, and of course I ignored the successes that contradicted my worldview.
That year, instead of starting a search engine, a chat site, or an online auction site, I wrote a book about clever stuff you could find online. I made eighty thousand dollars. The guys who started Yahoo!, on the other hand, with the same investment I made, ended up creating about eighty billion dollars in value (a million times more than I did) with the same information.
We both had access to the same resources and to the same technology. The difference is that David and Jerry saw something that I refused to see, because I was too clever to see it.
You can’t accurately see until you abandon your worldview. Your worldview is incredibly useful in everyday life—it’s the set of assumptions, biases, and beliefs you bring to the interactions you have with the world, and it saves a lot of time. Because you don’t have to come to new conclusions after each interaction, it’s easier to process familiar inputs and easier to be consistent.
But your worldview, by its nature, keeps you from seeing the world as it is.
A LIFETIME SPENT NOTICING BEGINS TO TURN INTO THE ABILITY TO SEE WHAT OTHERS CAN’T