Real life leadership blog: Perception vs Reality

In my series of real life leadership reflections, I’ll share some of the lessons from my own leadership journey. I develop other leaders and am a leader myself. I’ll share things that I am struggling with today and how I am developing, or not! Leadership is not as simple as all the books make out. I know, I wrote one of them!‘ Lucy

Are you doing what you think you are doing? Or is reality being warped by your perceptions?

Farewell January, the month where so many people start a new regime of exercise, health and wellbeing commitments.

This January, I was feeling pretty smug. I was already doing plenty of exercise and being careful with my diet. I didn’t need to make any ‘new’ commitments. I go to the gym regularly, run regularly, count my steps and my calories. I’m not perfect but doing OK.

I told my sister how ‘good’ I am already being. Then she asked me what I had actually done, rather than what I think I’ve done.


It was a bit shocking.

There was me feeling proud about all I was doing, but reality hit me. I was not doing anywhere near as much as I thought.

  • I didn’t go to the gym last week.
  • I only managed one run.
  • My step count was pretty awful.
  • I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate…

The list goes on.

It made me think, how many other things do I THINK I am doing (because historically I did) but in reality have slipped off the disciplines?

  • Am I spending quality time with the family, or just think I am because I intend to?
  • Am I actually being better about more clear communication in the team, or has that slipped back too?

As humans, we are all bundles of unconscious cognitive bias, because it helps our decision-making. Until it doesn’t.

Confirmation Bias states that we focus on details that confirm our existing beliefs. We readily accept information that confirms our own hypothesis and tend to ignore details that contradict our beliefs.

Even though I know this stuff, I am still as susceptible as anyone else to it.

Remember, “what you notice is not all there is, but you may believe that it is”. Now I have noticed and acknowledged my confirmation bias, I can choose to do something about it. Although I have to say that when my alarm went off for the run this morning, I turned it off, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

I never said I am perfect!

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