Perception is Reality
(One of the 83 quick and practical life & work lessons from Sh*t Sandwich: Quick & Practical Success Lessons for Practically Anyone.)
Perception is Everything
Perception is reality.
I wish I was the first person who ever uttered this unbelievably accurate view of the world.
I guess I almost could have been the first, since the quote is most often attributed to political consultant Lee Atwater (who is only twelve years older than me). I find that odd, of course, since the saying seems so much older and wiser. I liken it to Ben Franklin’s “early to bed and early to rise yada yada yada.”
I wish I was the first, because it truly does not matter what is what; perception really is reality. Moreover, perception is reality in both your business life and your personal life. The saying that “perception is reality” is as true and unyielding as any other.
The meaning of this quote, for those of you who are a little behind here, is that what people perceive to be their reality is, in fact, their own reality. For your workplace, this means your perception is your reality, your boss’s perception is her reality, and your coworkers’ perceptions are their (respective) realities. It does not matter one iota what the truth is, only what the perceptions of the truth are. More often than not, perception and reality are the same. It’s never really a problem when these two are aligned. The real (and perceived) issues crop up when they are not in alignment/agreement.
Understanding this, you must take charge of others’ perceptions of you. For example, it makes no sense to eat shit sandwiches if no one knows you ate them. Ensure that you are properly tooting your own horn, as it were, without looking like someone just tooting their own horn.
If you’re thinking “Gee, Steve, why can’t my superior work ethic and output be enough?”
My, aren’t you precious? Listen, it’s time to join the rest of the world in our reality; a reality where perception matters more than reality. In fact, I would argue, perception is all that matters.
I’ve had peers who worked hard and peers who were perceived as working hard. Only those perceived as working hard enjoyed all of the rewards that hard work brings. Therefore, if it was truly a choice between working hard and just being perceived as working hard, you should, unfortunately, choose the latter.
Luckily, you can and should do both.