I had no idea! … What? That can’t possibly be! … Wow! Was I wrong about that! I am sure that you, like me, have uttered one of these phrases, or something similar. What we thought was, is not. First impressions deceive. Once we know more, we understand.
The picture at the heading of this article is satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe. I found it posted in an online article in Wired that shows some of DigitalGlobe’s best images. Below is the full, uncropped picture. Take a look. Something’s not right.
What you are looking at is the Colorado River, but…how can that possibly be? It looks as though the river is raised above the surface of the ground! That just can’t be right!
Of course you are right, but the optical illusion in this image is very hard to overcome. Unlike the whimsical art of M. C. Escher, this is a photograph. Looking at Escher’s art is amusing and easy to reconcile because it is a clever creation of a man’s hand. An undoctored photograph, however, is harder to reconcile. Your mind stretches and twists trying to “fix” what your eyes see, but your mind knows cannot be.
Your eyes have deceived you at work, too.
- Some data came in and you just can’t believe it is accurate.
- One of your managers gave you a report about a project that is flabbergasting.
- A customer called to say, “I need to tell you about a problem we’re having with our sales rep.”
- One of your top performers is caught with his “hand in the cookie jar.”
Whatever the details of the scenario, you’ve received some information that just doesn’t make sense.
My colleague, Robert, posted an article this week, Go See. In it, he admonishes leaders to make the effort to get a first-hand account of a situation. Make the effort to talk to the people directly involved with any problem. I wholeheartedly agree. To that I add, don’t assume that the first impression is accurate. Are you sure that what your eyes and ears tell you is correct? Sometimes, the confusing information is Escherian—it is clearly contrived and somewhat easy to rectify. Usually, though, the confusing information is more like the satellite imagery—a digital photograph that looks incredibly accurate and hard to discount.
That’s when it is all the more important to “Go See” and ask yourself, “Are you sure?”
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.
Photo “Utah, USA, April 22, 2013 – Colorado River” by DigitalGlobe.