Friday, March 8, 2013

The Power of Perception

In our last SURVEY we asked: "In 10 years do you believe that the country, which you live in, will be implementing more environmental policies?" The majority of participants, 47%, said yes ... 35% said they didn't know ... and 17% answered no. As I thought about the answers and read the comments, it occurred to me that it's all about perception ... and our perceptions are based on fact, right? Or are they?

What if it's the other way around ... what if fact is actually driven by perception?

Consider this ... when we perceive that the economy is getting stronger, we may go out to dinner a little more often ... or take a vacation ... or buy that special something for the home. Spending a little more of our money does, indeed, improve the economy. Conversely, if we believe that things are getting worse, we hang onto our money. And sure enough, the economy gets worse.

Here's another example ... you wake up, look in the mirror, and think that you look great. You head off to work and your confidence shines causing everyone you meet to smile and respond to you in a positive way. On another day, the image in the mirror isn't exuding confidence ... and the people you meet throughout the day seem distant and angry.

In both of these examples, the process started with perception. The perception may have been based on some fact but, more than likely, it was simply how we saw things in that moment. How we saw things, however, caused our actions ... and those actions resulted in facts.

This isn't a new revelation. Advertisers and politicians know that what we believe motivates us. So they spend a lot of time and money to create perceptions which will have favorable results.

What if we apply that same idea to the environment?

When our perception is that our country is taking the environment seriously, we become encouraged and kick up our green-living efforts. We want to be part of the movement. We begin to feel that our efforts matter so we do more ... and we talk more about what we're doing ... and companies (aka special interest groups) hear us ... and politicians hear them. The result is that our perceptions actually drive the government to take action ... and the result is positive environmental change.

Okay ... so now we understand that our perception causes things to happen ... and our perception is changeable. So, the next question is how can we create a collective perception ... the belief that the earth is getting healthier, and thereby make it happen? In my opinion, we can do so by encouraging each other ... by talking about our efforts and how they are making our lives better. When we hold fast to our green commitments, we show others that we believe our efforts matter. The more we say it ... the more others begin to believe it. And when we all believe it, our actions make it happen.

Perception = action = fact. Believe that things are getting better and our actions will make it so!

How will you create a positive environmental perception?