Trigger Questions

Did You See Differently or the Same Old Same Old?

Trigger Question #14

“Please tell me you see what I saw.”

. . .

Today I have three fairy tales for you, which I will tell as one fable called “The Eskimo, the Shoe Salesmen and the UFO.”

The Eskimo

Once upon a time there lived an Eskimo in frozen Eskimo Land who bought a fridge for his igloo. When his neighbors saw the fridge, they realized they all needed one. But people who were strangers to this frozen land could not understand their fever for fridges. Until Peter Drucker explained it to them: “Selling refrigerators to the Eskimos to keep food cold is one thing. But selling refrigerators to the Eskimos to keep food from freezing is creative.” (Or words to that effect.)

His point? Unless you see the relationship between the objects involved (the fridge, the food, the climate, the Eskimo), you will only see the functionality of the fridge. You will then believe that Eskimos do not need fridges. And yet, Eskimos could use a device which prevents food from freezing while also keeping it fresh. (One of these days Eskimos will need a fridge for the same reason we do, and that’s no fairy tale.)

The Shoe Salesmen

Once upon a time, two shoe-salesmen (in those days they were indeed men) went to Africa. Okay, you’ve probably heard this one many times. But I’m from Africa and I cannot resist repeating it. Soon one salesman wrote to his boss, “Coming home. People don’t wear shoes.” The other salesman telegraphed his office, “Urgent. Send shoes. Huge untapped market.”

Both salesmen were looking at the same market, but seeing it differently.

What does seeing differently give you? Insight! And what does insight give you? The opportunity to choose to act differently.


Once upon a time, there lived a race of humans who thought and acted as if “seeing is believing.” Hang on, hang on! Most people still think and behave as if seeing is believing, so how can this be a once-upon-a-time fairy tale?

Well, social scientists have shown again and again that we are more likely to see that which we already believe. For example, if you believe in UFOs, you will see a UFO where others see a meteor, the space station, a weather balloon, a drone, a whatever.

We project what is in us out there. And then we believe what we see. We fall into the seeing-is-believing trap when we ignore relationships. Our eyes see objects, but not the relationships between the objects.

The Ever After

As long as we reject evidence that is objective (and, heaven forbid, scientific!) in favor of our overly subjective wishful thinking, we will live trapped in a fairy tale of our making. And we forget that fairy tales always have at least one villain, one ogre, one giant, one monster, one witch, one wolf, or all of them, living unhappily ever after.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

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