Sometimes things are not exactly what they are but they are what we make them be in our minds.
Case in point: you resolve to do something about the stubborn extra weight on your body. In your contemplation, you consider different options; joggers, bodybuilders or swimmers. However, joggers seem scrawny and unhappy, and bodybuilders look broad and stupid, and tennis players? Oh, so upper-middle class! Swimmers appeal to you with their well-built, streamlined bodies. Finally, your decision is out. You decide to swim twice a week.
Three months later with little or no weight loss, you realise that you succumbed to an illusion. Professional swimmers don’t have perfect bodies because they train extensively. Rather, they are good swimmers because of their physiques. How their bodies are designed is a factor for selection and not the result of their activities. Similarly, female models advertise cosmetics and thus, many female consumers believe that these products make you beautiful. But it is not the cosmetics that make these women model-like. Quite simply, the models are born attractive and only, for this reason, are they candidates for cosmetics advertising. As with the swimmers’ bodies, beauty is a factor for selection and not the result.
Whenever we confuse selection factors with results, we fall prey to illusion. Without this illusion, half of the advertising campaigns would not work. But this bias has to do with more than just the pursuit of chiselled cheekbones and chests. For example, I attended Namilyango College which has a reputation of being a top high school in Uganda. Many highly successful people have studied there. Does this mean that Namilyango is a good school? We don’t know. Perhaps the school is terrible, and it simply recruits the brightest students around the country. Actually, that is what they do.
If you want to build a highly innovative Company, don’t recruit people who are traditional in their thinking. You will spend years trying to influence them and they might never change. Creativity and innovation are primarily matters of selection not result. Do I mean that people can not learn creativity and innovation? No, they can, yet the humility to learn has to be resident in their Character or else you are wasting time.
If you are looking at hiring innovative staff, consider the following parameters:
- If the candidate highly imaginative? Highly imaginative people use fantasy as a way of creating a richer, more interesting world.
- Is the person vulnerable? Vulnerable people easily feel for others and are confident in their own skin.
- Is the candidate adventurous? Willingness to try new things and experiences.
- Is the candidate an intellect? Intellectuals love to play with ideas. They are open-minded to new and unusual ideas, and like to debate intellectual issues. They enjoy riddles, puzzles, and brain teasers.
In conclusion: be wary when you are encouraged to strive for certain things –be it abs of steel, immaculate looks or building a highly innovative Company. You might fall prey to the illusion of thinking you will look like the swimmer on the billboard or build a Company like Apple Inc without getting beneath the surface.