Perspective is vital, isn’t it?
Our eyes—and brains—can be tricked into thinking something is true when it’s actually not. In the graphic below, all the squares are totally straight. Yep, even the warped ones in the middle. The smaller black and white squares cause the lines to appear curved, but if you place a straight edge next to any of the lines, it’s apparent that nothing is actually distorted.
I was recently complaining to myself as I was filling my car’s tank about how expensive gas was. When I was a child, the gas stations near our house had a wacky out-of-control price war that brought down a gallon of gas to nineteen cents.
Yes, I’m that old. But here’s some perspective...
Way back in 1958, gas was averaging only 31 cents per gallon. But when adjusted for inflation, the cost comes to $3.27 in today’s dollars. What’s more, back then the American motorist drove 9,500 miles a year while getting only about 14 miles per gallon. The average car today gets a little over 25 mpg and we drive not much more: about 11,000 miles a year.
In that same year, the median income for households in America was $2,666. Adjusting for inflation, that would be roughly $28,200 today. But today, the median household income is $47,620.
With some perspective, the good old days may not have been as good as we remember. And, of course, for perspective ask any person of color how pleasant 1958 was in America.
The danger of idealizing the past is that it paralyzes the ability to change in the present. As we’ve stated before, there can be no growth without change, and there can be no change without letting go of something…and the something is typically associated with the past.
Which raises some questions: what is memorialized in the organization you’re a part of? Is it a past that is idealized? What has caused the fear of change in the leadership? Is there actual data to move beyond anecdotes and unquantifiable feelings?
Perhaps it’s time for a straight edge.
Dave Workman | The Elemental Group
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