It’s all a matter of perspective: Letting our physical spaces define us

19 11 2007

Our minds are built on patterns.

We are creatures of habit and we attempt to understand our world by forming patterns based primarily on our past experiences. But, unfortunately life, nature, and people we aren’t that simple. When we are children we learn through association: Fire is hot and it burned me therefore other things that are hot should burn me too; however, as we quickly learn, these rules can breakdown under certain situations. For example, I remember sticking my hand in a bucket of dry ice when I was 5 and being extremely confused as to how I got burned from ICE.

In the grand scheme, these types of survival based constructs are static and with a few exceptions serve us well in understanding our surroundings and staying alive. However, when trying to apply these types of associations, that work so well, upon ideas and concepts in flux like trends, it narrows our field of vision. The tough part then becomes being able to break through these layers of patterns and reverting to a child-like state.

This is a topic I have touched on before in a number of posts, but here I wanted to discuss how physical spaces influence our perspectives by reinforcing or diminishing our patterns. For example, if you are a high-powered CEO nestled in your office surrounded by your ‘success’, it reinforces your patterns since your previous applications of understanding based on those associations got you where you are today.

In the picture at the top of this post we see a series of concentric circles that are dependent on the physical location they are viewed from. Step out of your comfort space. Step out of the world you have built around you to reinforce your ideal self.

Trust me it isn’t an easy excercise.

But, try to build small escapes into your daily routine such as having lunch outside the office in varying environments, or conducting meetings outside the corner conference room.

Here are a couple cool examples of how we jump to conclusions too quickly (a bit NSFW)

Part 1

Part 2

More cool examples of the pic at the top of the post.


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21 11 2007
David Cushman

I don’t know how precise a fit this is, but it’s a neat story I heard yesterday while speaking at Digital Identity in London.
Why is the space shuttle the size it is?
Because the booster rockets have to go through train tunnels.
Train tunnels are the size they are because rail tracks followed the ruts in the roads that preceded them.
Why were the ruts there? Because Roman chariot wheels made them.
Why were Roman chariots the width they were?
Because two horses had to fit side-by-side between them.
So why is the space shuttle the size it is? Because of the width of two horses butts.

The lesson is, careful what assumptions you are building on. The way things have always been done can have huge influence on how things continue to be done.

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