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Clarity | seeing situations in new and revealing ways

This may help you today.

Too often we find it difficult to respond to things we know will happen in the future.

Most of us, one day or another will be too old to work.  And if we stop working, incomes will cease or decrease substantially.  Sounds depressing, a little sad.  Don’t get me wrong, this is is not some rant to bring you down.  Actually, I heard about a new way of looking at things and I think you may find it useful.

We find it difficult to see around the corner to far off events

Our brains were never wired genetically to look into the future.  For thousands of years we were required to consider the here and now, fight or flight as the biologists refer to it.  It was the prudent and smart thing to do.  If you accomplished that task, you might survive.

We don’t have sabre tooth tigers chasing us nor are packs of velociraptors.  Instead, we face rising health care costs, retirement, exit plans and vast amounts of student debt either as a kid looking at college or their ever supportive parent.  Are we at a disadvantage?

To illustrate the point, are you saving enough for your retirement?  If you are statistically like most Americans only about half of you are ready for the breadwinner to stop working when they reach the age of 65.  Three out of four of you have saved less than $30,000 for that inevitable stage of life.

Why do we do this?  We know it will happen.  Ask anyone.  Yes, we plan to retire.  But, are you taking the required steps?  Well…

I ask my kids if they can imagine being my age.  One is starting their post college degree adventure and another will soon make a decision whether to even go.  They have a hard time considering their future at my age.  I double down.  I ask them to consider the time in their future when they will be the same age as their grandmother.  Tiny explosions go off.

The disconnect between our present and future selves

A social psychologist at New York University by the name of Hal Hershfield came up with an idea and an experiment to demonstrate the concept.  Hershfield and colleagues showed a series of participants a 60 second video of themselves as a digital representation.  Half saw themselves as they now existed.  In contrast, the second group was shown a similar video but their representation was changed by age progression algorithms (software) to show what they might look like at 70 years old.  This is what police investigators do to find a missing person long after they have disappeared.  After viewing, each group had a brief conversation with a digital representation of a researcher.

age progession software algorithm

Both groups were then given a fixed sum of money to allocate amongst four different categories.  The group that had seen the older, future image of themselves allocated on average more than twice the amount to retirement than the other group.  That is a rather significant discrepancy.

To further refine the results, Hershfield conducted another experiment to determine whether it was the sight of their own aging face or the suggestion alone of aging in general.  For this test, half of the group saw a software morphed image of someone else while the other half saw an age-morphed image of themselves.  The results were striking.  Those who saw an aged image of themselves were much more likely to save a greater sum for retirement than those who saw an aged image of someone else.

Clarity: see situations in new and revealing ways that offer fresh perspective

We like to think of ourselves today as different people than those we will inevitably be tomorrow.  Hershfield and his colleagues had found a new problem, one that we may not have known we had.

How can we use this info to help a family member or customer/client solve a problem by seeing themselves or their business in the future?

This remains a challenge for all us whether we are dealing with our children, employer, employee or especially if we are business owners who wish to be effective for our clients and customers.  In order to move others we have to demonstrate clarity as a function of contrast.  We have to help them see their situations in new and revealing ways which will offer fresh perspective in finding problems they may never knew existed.



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