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Four Obstacles Bar Experts From Local Recognition

by Lori L. Barr, M. D.

© 2009 Lori L. Barr All rights reserved.

Intellects study the unconscious habits of successful individuals and consciously teach those habits to students in memorable ways at this school. Want to attend?

My son explored the campus one day last summer in plaid shorts. Richard said, "This is Disneyworld for your imagination!" Amazingly, more international students pay to attend than do locals. Just last week, the Chancellor closed the campus to the public due to repeated acts of vandalism and disrespect.

Tempted to condemn the ignorance of the immediate populace? The individual who envisions the future and speaks to those who cannot hear is a recurring theme in human history. Homer mentions the gift of prophecy Apollo granted to Cassandra, princess of Troy for her beauty. She spurned his love; he gifted her again. Listeners suffered selective hearing loss when she prophesied.

History confirms the expert's difficulty at home. The gospels of Mark and Luke recount the attempt of Jesus to bring His understanding and application of the Torah to his own country. Mark says the people were offended. Jesus said, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and among his own kin and in his own house."

In 1847 physician Ignaz Semmelweis, the father of modern antiseptic technique was dismissed from his hospital, ostracized by the Vienna medical community and believed to be insane when he suggested that hand-washing by physicians performing both autopsies and deliveries could prevent deaths of birthing mothers. He died in an asylum.

World-renown radiologist Leonard Swischuk revolutionized x-ray recognition of childhood diseases. In 1985, I learned the art of pediatric radiology from him in Galveston. He was better recognized on the island as a tennis racquet stringer and shirt monogrammer.

You share Cassandra's frustration and despair. Create a great idea and as fast as you show it to family, they remind you why you cannot profit from it. What four obstacles must one overcome to locally be recognized as expert?

1) Memory Entrapment. Human memory contains complex snapshots of encounters with other individuals. As a result, you earn a specific place in the mind of another over time. When your new idea is incongruent with their memory of you or even with your own memory of yourself, disbelief is the only logical result.

2) Complacency. In traditional education we play "Follow the Follower". We learn to be comfortable as a part of a herd. We want to wear what our friends are wearing and do what our friends are doing. Many adults freeze their awareness at this level. When you decide to think differently, the herd senses danger. Herd members work to pull the straggler back into the fold or, if matters become extreme, to cull the deviant for the sake of the herd.

3) Fear of Criticism goes unrecognized within one's own mind and kills the desire to create. Fear results in alibis and excuses that smother your idea before it has time to grow. Napoleon Hill studied over one thousand successful individuals and many more failures. In Think and Grow Rich, he states, "People refuse to take chances in business because they fear the criticism which may follow if they fail. The fear of criticism in such cases is stronger than the desire for success."

4) Familiarity. The more familiar we are with another, the more likely we are to find something we dislike. Experiments by Norton et al found that if one dissimilarity between two people surfaced, subsequent information is perceived as supportive evidence for dissimilarity. Dislike cascades. Individuals discount ideas from people they dislike.

Bob Proctor is right, "What other people think about you is none of your business." Your business is what you think of yourself and how you choose to nurture your new ideas. The choice you make and your ability to overcome these four obstacles within your own mind correlate with expansion of your sphere of influence.

Corporations hire "experts" to stimulate productivity. This means someone from outside the immediate metropolitan area who has an impressive presentation. Savvy leaders suspend their paradigms about their employees and the surrounding community. They look for locals who understand how to bridge the knowing/doing gap and also grasp the significant contribution the business makes to the community.

Uncover hidden treasures in your family, corporation and community. Who can you listen to and view outside of your preconceived notions? Recognize them as an undervalued local expert here with a comment. If you would like my list of ten undervalued local experts, drop me an email.

Less is more: The lure of ambiguity, or why familiarity breeds contempt. Norton, Michael I.; Frost, Jeana H.; Ariely, Dan, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 92(1), Jan 2007, 97-105

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