Perception is Your Reality
Perception really is reality. You've heard that before. And it is true. Kind of. Perception is reality to the person who holds the perception. But is it time for a reality check for your perceptions?
There is a restaurant in Lansing that I recently went to. The food was great. They had an option for my preferred diet, their service was great, and their staff was friendly. My perception of that restaurant is that they are a top notch place that I would return to. The next day I went to a meeting and someone asked how my trip to Lansing was going. I mentioned eating at that restaurant and he wrinkled his nose. I told him I had a great experience and would go back. He said he would never recommend that place to anyone. Because he had gotten bad (as in spoiled) food there one time, his perception was completely different than mine. But to each of us, our perception was indeed our reality. We will each continue to act on our own perceptions until something makes us change our perception.
This happens all too frequently in our own community and in many cases it is causing a leakage of money from our local economy. So maybe it is time for a perception reality check for us. This community is not the same community it used to be. Sure many things have stayed the same, but so much is different. The product you think you can't get here because it wasn't here before might very well be available here now. The service you found cheaper downstate several years ago might be available here for the same price, or an even better price. Take a look around here for the item you are currently looking for. It might surprise you that the "better selection" you hope to find elsewhere actually exists right here in your own community.
Of course there are some things you may not be able to purchase locally. But each of us probably has at least one opportunity to make a change big or small to spend more money locally. If you are purchasing anything from out of the area for any of the following reasons: you have always done it that way, you haven't looked locally in a long time, you once had a bad experience at the place you could buy it locally, or last time you checked exactly what you wanted wasn't available locally, then it is time for you to engage in a reality check of your perceptions. Re-visit the opportunity to buy whatever it is you are shopping for locally and help put a stop to the leakage we experience every single day.
Hanging on to the perceptions is not unique to this region. There is actually something called static evaluation our tendency to evaluate things as if nothing changes over time. This is not an effective way to engage in evaluation. Things do change over time. Businesses change. People change. Customer service changes. Products change. Communities change. And so if things are changing, we can't continue to evaluate them as if they exist in the same state as they did last time we had an experience with them. Static evaluation leads to hanging on to perceptions well after they become inaccurate and stale.
Are you holding on to any perceptions that might need a bit of a refresher? Maybe it's time to revisit that and change your reality by changing your perceptions, and in the process, help the community grow. Although I don't know the exact statistics, I believe that if we stopped even 50 percent of the money that is leaking from this community annually we would see a noticeable increase in hiring at our retailers and service providers. And more jobs is something we all want, isn't it?
Your perception is indeed your reality. But sometimes our perceptions need a reality check. Next time you consider a purchase out of the area, ask yourself if you considered it locally first. Identify perceptions you have that might be leading to leaking money outside of your community and then consider re-visiting those perceptions to see if it is time for an update.
Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.