Once upon a time there was a man selling delicious donuts on the side of a road. The business was going well. He had so much work that he did not even listen to the radio or read the newspapers. He also did not have time to sit and watch television for how self-absorbed he was in carrying on his flourishing business.
During summer his son, who was doing a master’s degree in Business Studies, came to visit him and gave him some bad news:
– Father, don’t you listen to the radio or read the newspapers? We are going through a huge crisis. This country is going to the dogs.
At first, the father could not believe it but then he began to think: “My son is studying, he is informed and knows what he’s talking about”.
Therefore, he decided to be more cautious. The next day he bought less ingredients and with a minor quality to reduce his donut production.
Sales were decreasing day by day, so after a short time, his business began to have losses. The man called his son at the university and told him:
– My son, you were right! We are immersed in a huge crisis.
This impressive parable reveals how sometimes we are the ones who lay the foundations of our problems or misfortunes, how we can become artisans of our adversity paying attention to the words of the others instead of verifying the facts and reflecting on reality.
What you think is real will end up being real to you
The dualistic conception of thought that has dominated during the last centuries and determined our way of seeing and relating to the world, leads us to think that there is an objective reality completely independent of us. The truth is that reality is always subjective, at least ours, since we cannot abstract from our beliefs, expectations, dreams and disappointments. We see the world as we are.
Therefore, some people can flourish in the middle of a crisis while others sink. Reality is not a smooth mirror in which we reflect ourselves, but rather a diamond with a thousand faces, which will vary according to how we look at them. There is nothing mystical about it, in Psychology this phenomenon is known as the “self-fulfilling prophecy”, a concept that was proposed several decades ago by the sociologist Robert Merton.
It is about the beliefs that come true because we act as if they were true. In practice, our expectations about the results make us change our behavior, just like the donut vendor did, which has a direct influence on our level of involvement with projects or how people perceive us.
In this way, without realizing it, with our attitudes and behaviors we are contributing to make the original belief a reality that at the beginning was only an expectation, an option among so many other possible alternatives. What we believe is true ends up becoming our reality.
Make sure you look at the world through the most convenient lenses
It is not about embracing a naïve and excessive optimism that ultimately ends up being harmful as it separates us from reality, but since we are not immune to the self-fulfilling prophecy, we should at least make sure that we are seeing the world through the most convenient lenses.
What are those lenses?
The lenses that allows you to feel more satisfied and happy, that helps you achieve your goals and allows you to glimpse opportunities where others see only problems. The lenses that allows you to see the obstacles so that you can prepare to face them but that does not make you fall into despair. Finally, the lenses that allows you to empower yourself and take out the best version of you, so that you can face reality in the best possible way. It’s a change of perspective that’s worth it.
Merton, R. K. (1968) Social Theory and Social Structure. Nueva York: Free Press.