Prejudgment and perception management

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Lisa Moore
  • 39th Medical Support Squadron commander
Have you ever been told that perception is reality and wondered why that is the case? In my experience, perception truly is reality for the member having the experience; however, factually, the perception may not be accurate. So, I challenge you to ask yourselves how to prevent false perceptions about a situation and focus on the true reality. Albert Einstein summarized this phenomenon well by stating, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

You might ask how you would go about doing this when you instinctively have feelings about whatever situation you encounter in life. There are tools we can utilize to help us with this auto-function--that of analyzing facts. How often as a child were you handed a plate full of "unusual looking" food and you instinctively didn't want to eat what was on the must be bad because it looks and smells different to me. Yet, as we grow older and our parents force us to experience more foods, we learn that the appearance frequently doesn't represent the wonderful taste to your pallet. For instance is a wonderful dish of eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers and garlic. Although it sounds great to me today, as a child I am sure I would have initially hesitated to eat it--but I would have missed out on some great food!

So, just using this as an example, one can see the importance of researching the facts prior to making a judgment. Applying this principle to our relatively recent transition to using more downtown medical care, I would like to delve into the details a bit more. Currently, we do not have an Emergency Room or any routine inpatient beds here at the 39th Medical Group. I have heard intermittent expressions of concern at the lack of 100 percent of our service needs being met from within the clinic. Although I understand the concern, I am happy to report that there are great facilities within our reach as well. For instance, we have two state of the art facilities just a short drive from our facility. Two relatively new hospitals that are in our network have Emergency Services and inpatient rooms that will knock your socks off (to be honest, the rooms remind me of a five-star hotel--one hospital even had hair dryer's in the room). Upon visiting these facilities in the recent past, any preconceived perceptions were replaced in my mind with great respect to the professionals that work within the walls of these facilities--it just took a little research to obtain a "reality" check.

In closing, I share these examples only to illustrate the importance of looking beyond the surface of any issue and finding the real truth before making a judgment. As Max DePree stated in his book titled "The Art of Leadership," "The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality." It is often with hard facts that we make our best decisions. For if we didn't have our forefathers looking beyond their perception that the world was flat with a drop off at the edge, we would have missed out on many wonderful travels around the globe.