I shared recently on The Empowerment Partnership Facebook Page the following quote by John Lubbock: “What we see depends mainly what we look for.” I had a couple of emails after that post asking if this is another way of saying perception is projection. The short answer is yes, the long answer is this blog post…


Looking through Filters


Perception is an interesting thing. Before my kid’s school ended last year, I was in the office helping out with some work, and a mom that I know came up to me and asked me if I heard about her daughter’s birthday party coming up that weekend. I responded with, “Sorry, I had not.” I was about to ask her for details when another lady listening chimed in and said, “Typical dad!”


Wow! I just looked at her wondering what has to be driving her thinking to say such a thing to someone she barely knows. The mom I know just started at her in disbelief. Her stare had to do with the fact that I am not the typical dad…


I’m the type of dad that has a five-year-old daughter with hair that needs to be kept long for hula, so it goes all the way down to her waist. I can braid her hair, which I am told by the other mom’s and teachers is an amazing feat for a dad (not bragging too much, because the braid is not super tight, but hey! I can do it!!).


I’m the type of husband that actually maintains the schedule for the family and knows (without looking) our anniversary, birthdates and other major events. My wife would actually say that I’m more of the mom and she’s more of the dad.


But in this one interaction this lady looking at me through her own filters made a comment that most would have jumped all over and argued with. I did nothing but say, “Yes, I am a typical dad. Thank you!” Because you see, to me, the typical dad should be like me. (At least in my opinion.)


Digging Deeper


As the lady walked away, the mom looked at me and said, “But you aren’t the typical dad! Why didn’t you tell her?” After that question we had an amazing discussion about perceptions and that it isn’t my role to change someone’s mind. I figured a couple of things:


1. It is unfortunate that the lady never took the time to dig a little deeper. I later found out that my son Ethan had neglected to give me the invitation (it was in his backpack). I never actually told him the details of the events. Just that next time, please let me know.


More importantly:


2. People need to learn things in their own way.


You see, about a month or so later the lady came up to me after seeing me interacting with my two kids and said she had made a rush to judgment earlier. I told her that was fine, and she continued then to tell me how she is always getting on her husband about doing things for the kids and wanting him to be more involved.


I simply told her that every person is different, and that I am sure he does things that I don’t do with my kids. However, I was very impressed that she had stepped out of her “typical dad” filter and saw things differently.


Most of us don’t do that. Most of us maintain the filter because that is easier.


So my question is: how many of you make snap judgments to people, places or things and then all of a sudden your entire focus is changed? Are you willing to change those perceptions because you don’t know how many of them are right and how many of them are wrong…


In other words, are you able to see the above image as both a duck AND a rabbit? 🙂