If you should ask yourself what influences your perception of people, you’ll realize that one basic daily truth is that the way you judge or class by people is obviously dependent on your perception of their stature or status.
This fundamental reality was the premise upon which my friend and I struggled last night to appreciate the thought patterns and parameters that have meticulously shaped the way we perceive people in our societies.
Perception, in turn, is a functional prerequisite that enables people to dish out honor, respect, and attention to others. This means, if you perceive someone to be undeserving, you’ll certainly give him/her the exact dose of honor due to the level your perception classed him/her.
The reason why you pass beggars on the streets without taking selfie-shots with them is that you feel they are probably not in your league, they are too dirty or such a picture will be an embarrassment to your personality — right?
Whether the options I spelled out are the correct reasons or not, it doesn’t change the fact that it is a perception issue, because you won’t fail to take a selfie-shot with Rihanna or any music star if you should see them walking on the same streets.
This brings us to the two basic components of perception — stature and status.
Status can easily be identified as your portfolio, academic qualifications, titles, social class, influence, fame and the fatness of your bank account. This is what people look out for almost immediately they meet you.
For the beggars on the streets, people don’t give room for second thoughts before concluding that they are paupers. For the Catholic priest in his full regalia, the single story you might have of him is that he is pious and “holy”.
And for the sex workers in the brothels, they are considered to be outright sinners with no sense of dignity or morality.
Now let me stop there. I believe you now understand what I mean by status.
Stature, on the other hand, refers to your inner make-up. It is the totality of your capacity and capabilities. Beyond the single-story people have of you, stature defines you.
It’s your content and knowledge base — a proof of your investments in human capital. It is the summation of how well you’ve groomed yourself and who you are in the secret — your character. Simply say, it is the “real you” which others probably might not have noticed.
Everyone on the face of the earth is wearing a mask called status. When these masks are removed, what is left is stature.
Now, I’ll pose the question again, What influences your perception of people — stature or status?
During my discussion with my friend last night, the struggles we had in a bid to appreciate people’s judgemental systems and their modus operandi was appalling.
Do you know that the society of today has given credence to things that shouldn’t have been considered worthwhile? My attention is primarily on our over-rated education system.
The present-day society would want to know what your academic and societal qualifications are before they’ll give you an opportunity to express yourself in any sphere of interest. This is because there is a general notion that only people with such qualifications have the stature to deliver the right content.
In their best selling book, The Power of Focus, author Jack Canfield and his colleagues said this:
“Talk show host David Letterman has wacky top-10 lists that people actually pay money for. But here is a list that has more value — a checklist to make sure you’re using a successful framework to set goals [and we are giving this to you at no extra cost beyond the affordable cost of this book]”
When I read those words, I felt the weight of how a lot of people have settled for less from others who have social recognition but lack true stature.
The lives of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates taught us that by virtue of academic qualifications, one can be a dropout, but on the strengths of knowledge base, human capital, and potentials, such a person can be better than a professor. Don’t say they’re geniuses! No!
Calling them geniuses is a just a calculated effort to water down the reality that anyone can be a superstar even know his societal status doesn’t qualify him as such.
The most intriguing paintings our world have ever graced such as The Last Supper, Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Birth of Venus, The Starry Night, The Kiss, and Mona Lisa were painted by great men who chiefly were never enrolled into any art academy before they unraveled the precious gifts locked up within them.
Does my tone sound as though I have a level of prejudice against education? Certainly not. However, my heart aches because we’ve given so much attention to papers, degrees, and titles while our doors are consistently slammed against the faces of people with equivalent or higher capacities simply because there is no paperwork or social recognition to authenticate them.
Recently, one of my friends who holds a college degree in Social Science has been facing tough times at work. Over the past couple of years, he fell in love with music and sounds. Through the help of mentors and YouTube, he was able to learn a lot about sound engineering while he was pursuing his college degree.
He got a job with a good governmental organization where his profound knowledge in sound engineering was put into use. As a matter of fact, he has clearly out-shined their “learned” sound engineers.
Now, this is the cause of my heartburn. He was asked to undertake high school O’Level examinations in Sciences before he could be considered for promotion in the organizations, even though his expertise qualifies him for it.
Why? Simply because “it sounds awkward for a guy with a college degree in social science to be in charge of sounds.”
You might think the organization is crazy to deny him the promotion or perhaps as an academic bigot, you might agree that the guy should never have been employed in the first instance. Either way, haven’t we behaved in a similar manner towards others?
It makes me think again and again about what we really want from others — Reports or Results?
Until we change the parameter of our perception from status to stature our societies may remain stunted in certain cadres of achievements.
In my country, Nigeria, we’ve got lots of pot-bellied politicians who are running the country into a pit. In spite of their broken promises and acute corruption, it’s pitiable that the masses are always voting them back to the office because they’re qualified with all the experiences in money laundering and crime.
Why can’t we believe in the younger generation? Why can’t we vote stature instead of status?
The prostitutes in the brothels might have defiled every boundary of morality and dignity, but has anyone cared to know what were the challenges that led to their current status? Does it mean that there is no atom of good that can be factored in them?
What of the beggars, are we better than them simply because we can afford comfortable meals, good homes a possibly a beautiful Jacuzzi?
Are we really better because we have a mindset that can never relegate us to begging? Come on, Emmanuel Eboue, the former millionaire footballer was begging to live a seemingly comfortable life just a couple of months ago.
Was he not the same person who had a fleet of cars and a beautiful home in the UK? Are you gonna look down on him because things went south for him?
What fuels your opinion of others?
I’ll sign out here.