In light of much that has happened throughout our nation and the world, tensions are rising. Tempers flare and emotions are spent from frustration, misunderstanding, and an overall failure to see past the moment. A lot can happen in a moment; a rush to judgment, an angry word, or the tragic loss of life. We are hurt, confused, defensive, and even divided. We are divided by politics, divided by socioeconomic status, and perhaps even a fundamental difference in the way we see the world.
Whatever method we choose to keep us informed is influenced and filtered by whoever is responsible for bringing the story to life. Whether it’s television, print, the Internet, or social media, the messages we receive are delivered with bias. When that bias doesn’t align with our own, we tend to disagree. On the other hand, when it aligns with our bias, we most likely agree. Even when the story you see or hear is upsetting, there’s a good chance you will internalize (and believe) the story when you are aligned with the source. You believe the S.T.O.R.Y.
It dominates our thoughts and deeds. That’s because we all have biases – all of us! Bias can turn into prejudice. Prejudice is found in the 3e Phenomenon (for more information, stay tuned for my book release).
To put prejudice into context, here’s an example.
The other day I was driving in my local community when all of a sudden I felt my car shaking; it was to the point where my windows and mirrors were vibrating! I knew it was an oncoming vehicle with the stereo cranked up so loudly, it could easily be heard a block away. I was immediately irritated and had a mental image of the driver; a young male, in his late teens to early 20s. He was the only one in the car. I saw the car with the windows down (of course). He was leaning down in his seat, trying to look cool. I was prepared to watch him drive by. I was also deciding if I was going to give him that “look.” You know the expression on your face; the kind where you shake your head slowly in disgust. To be clear, I’m never sure of the driver’s ethnicity because I’ve witnessed white, African-American, and Latino drivers in the same scenario. When the car finally passed me, much to my surprise, he was an older white male, well into his 30s (at least). Surprise! Although the loud music was still annoying, I was wrong about the age of the driver. I already “saw” him before I saw him. What if the driver had been female? What if there were passengers? What then would happen to my theory? What if I tried my best to clear the original image from my mind? What if I did that with other prejudices and biases? Truth be told, I was a bit ashamed of myself. Ashamed for all the young men I had placed behind the wheel who didn’t deserve to be there. Does that mean the next time he won’t fit my description? No. But what if he/she doesn’t?
The example is simple enough and happens countless times a day. There are untold situations happening right now, where someone is passing judgment. They “see” the person before they see them. I realize there are situations that are far more volatile and require you to make a “gut” decision. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m suggesting is to take a moment – just one moment before you make your decision about “that person.” The interesting thing about human nature is our desire to be right. If the car I talked about earlier had a driver that fit my mental image, I would have been right. It would have given me the ability to say, “I knew it!” Sometimes, subconsciously for the sake of wanting to be right, we come to those conclusions. What if we didn’t have to be right? What if we just took a moment? What if we did that more often? My prayer is for us to do just that. What would happen if we did? Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It starts with each of us. It requires us to pause. And when we pause, we may just find it only takes a moment to change the world.
As a certified coach, Reginald works with leaders from the boardroom to the classroom. Whether they are executives navigating the next chapter in their career, or college students ready to embark on the world beyond campus life or academia, he helps them identify what’s been alluding them, and achieve the success they’re looking for.
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