Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Biographer

I once met a man who, with great faith in his ability to play Sherlock Holmes, announced that he could recite various things about my background based solely upon listening to me give a presentation on management.

I eagerly listened to his detailed analysis, but at the conclusion had to inform him that all of it was wrong. He'd constructed a picture of me that had no connection to reality. I could understand how he might have concluded certain things and yet he missed an elementary truth about people: They are complex.

It is so tempting to seize upon one factor and believe that you've captured the substance of a person. Certain words evoke powerful assumptions and prejudices. Think of the images your mind produces when you slowly read the following:

  • Banker

  • Southerner

  • Volvo Owner

  • Biker

  • Hunter

  • Vegan

  • Bow Tie

  • Pony Tail

  • Black Belt

It can be hard to tell whether our assumptions are binoculars or blindfolds.


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