Which reality are you living in?

by Alan Hosking: Publisher of HR Future, South Africa's human strategy magazine, and a Leadership Renewal Coach for senior executives.
There was a time when people all seemed to live in one reality – they accepted that the reality they faced was borne out by facts and truth. Well, facts and truth have become casualties as people have chosen their own realities in the “multiple reality world” of today.

There are some important ingredients that have always determined truth and reality, one of them being a small matter of verifiable evidence. That means there must be valid, provable evidence that verifies and supports the truth or reality that is claimed.

Take Donald Trump’s reality that the election was stolen from him. Various aspects of this claim have been tested in over 60 court cases, presided over by US judges, some of whom were appointed by him. Based on the evidence presented in court, they all found the claims put before them to be unsubstantiated. In plain language, this means that, despite what Trump and his thousands of followers would like to believe, the election was not stolen from him. He lost it, fair and square. But try and tell that to him...

Then there’s the reality of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who have been telling “their truth” about the Royal family to Oprah and anyone else who cares to listen to them. Having positioned themselves as the saviours of the modern world, they preach many gospels that include the need for everyone to protect the environment – while they fly around in their private jet. Clearly, most of us don’t share their reality.

Another reality that millions around the globe are currently living in is the reality that vaccinations against Covid-19 and its variants is a plot to control and manipulate them. One of the early views was the belief that there was a chip in the vaccination that would enter your body and give away your location and other important data about you. One wonders if those people have never heard about cell phones doing just that for decades. By the way, have you noticed how the “chip reality” has quietly disappeared? No self-respecting anti-vaxxer is pushing this reality any more.

Some believe that Big Pharma is using the vaccination to achieve its own dubious ends. Those who live in this reality assure us that, if you take the vaccine, you will shorten your life because you will die in the next five years. One wonders where people come up with these ideas. Which business in its right mind will intentionally develop and sell a product that kills off its customers? It’s far smarter to keep your customers alive so they can continue buying more products from you. That reality didn’t seem to occur to the anti-Big Pharma people.

Then there’s the reality of Boris Johnson who thought the boozy staff party he was attending in the middle of a Covid lockdown was a work function.

The reality of Jacob Zuma and his followers is that he is an innocent man who has been unfairly targeted by his opponents for being a champion of the poor.

And the reality of those who have allegedly committed fraud and corruption on a monumental; scale in South Africa is that they are all innocent and have been unfairly accused.

In fact, no-one is guilty of anything today. People caught standing over their victim with the murder weapon in their hands and the victim’s blood dripping from their fingers, when brought before a court of law and asked to plead, will confidently and passionately plead, “Not guilty”.

These are but a few of the realities that people have chosen to live in. Most of these people are victims of deception and self-deception. They have been deceived by others who wish to secure followers for their own purposes. Then, of more concern, they have been deceived by themselves. You see, when you set out to deceive others, the first person you deceive is yourself. And once you’ve done that, you no longer are in touch with any verifiable reality.

So, as a leader, what reality are you living in? Are you living in a verifiable reality that has been tested and accepted by other clear thinking people with no personal agendas or are you living in a reality that you have created for yourself and which you have chosen to believe?

If you’re living in a reality of your own choice, understand this: others can see things in you that you can’t see in yourself. If you’re someone who is known to accept valid criticism, a few brave souls may point out your disconnect from reality. If you’re known not to take criticism well, they will remain silent and allow you to continue living your delusion.

While I don’t necessarily like criticism of myself, I have trained myself to accept it, for one important reason – I would really not like to be “that person” that everyone else knows something about but of which I am completely unaware. I therefore receive the criticism so that I am empowered to do something about it. We all have blind spots, so criticism is one of the ways we can eliminate blind spots.

As a leader, if you’re living in a reality that is of your own making, sooner or later you will be confronted by reality as it really is. And when that happens, you’ll be in for a shock, for embarrassment and, possibly, humiliation. If that’s a risk you’re prepared to take, well and good.

On the other hand, if you are prepared to face and accept valid evidence (criticism) in order to ensure that the reality you are living in is not of your own making but that which is shared by everyone else, you will grow as a human being and make a meaningful contribution to the world by influencing others as well. It’s your choice!

Useful resources:
HR Future
HR Future is South Africa's only independent, most forward thinking human resource magazine with the richest content wealth of HR related issues on the continent of Africa to help executives recruit, manage, train, reward and retain the best talent.
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