From the ‘crisis of perception’ to the ‘systems view of life’
Daniel Christian Wahl

  1. There are different levels of perception. In this essay, you have seemed to focus on the higher level of “thinking about” as “perception.” I will focus briefly on a lower level of perception.

Changing perception is possible. It is not always easy. And the transition period can be slightly traumatic. In 1966, I visited my home on leave between duty assignments with the Air Force. My mother was then working on a masters in special education. She tested me on something she had just learned about in a psychology course: eye dominance. I asked if a person could change their eye dominance. No. She said it was apparently determined genetically.

Leaving out the motivation discussion, at my new duty station, I changed my eye dominance over a couple weeks of occasional effort. At the point where I had succeeded (or was succeeding), I spilled coffee on my shirt. Picking up a cup to drink from while looking at the person across the table with whom I was talking, I attempted to sip from the “wrong” visual image, i.e., my eye-hand coordination had not yet adapted to my newly dominant eye (slightly traumatic).

2. One of my rules of thumb is that 90% of my behavior is habitual, 9% is imitative, and 1% is based on thinking. My habits change when my environment and/or typical daily situations change. Some old habits lead to poor results and must be modified or replaced. For me, changing my behavior means changing my environment and/or typical daily situations so that my habits will change in the desired direction.

3. I sometimes think that a fundamental choice early in our cultural evolution was between brawn and brain, i.e., between muscle and mind. It is understandable that we chose doing rather than thinking. My experience is that twenty minutes of real thinking makes me just as hungry as three hours of swinging a splitting maul making firewood. Given that thinking can require nine times as much energy as doing, the general tendency was, “Let’s stop thinking and talking and start doing something.” Perhaps we should think more, in particular, think about how to better satisfy our real human needs by not-doing certain things.

4. Yesterday’s solution becomes tomorrow’s problem (mentioned in the webinar). When I was first a mid-level manager in a small corporation, I tried to reduce the time I had to spend dealing with problems by always taking corrective actions whenever I noticed something that would eventually turn into a problem. This did not work well for me. Then I had an insight (perhaps correct, maybe not) that Heaven had decreed that each managerial position should be allocated problems to occupied a designated average percentage of the manager’s time.

I decided to trick Heaven. Whenever I saw a situation that would eventually result in a problem, if the problem would be easy to handle and its consequence not too expensive, I let it be. Soon, almost all my designated time for dealing with problems was spent dealing with easy, inexpensive problems that I had expected to arise someday. Managing thus became much more fun.

About a decade later, after some “career” changes (commercial fishing, construction work), a friend who was leaving a CPA firm to become a corporate CFO asked me for advice about working in a managerial position. One of the things I told him was about tricking Heaven with regard to dealing with problems. About a year later, he told me that he had tried that technique and it had work really well for him, giving me a few particular examples of his experiences.

Like what you read? Give Bill Everett a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.