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Time Lag

(July 17, 2006) The mind is an amazing thing. Even though sound and light move through space at radically different speeds, we usually see lips moving in synch with the sound coming out of them. The reality is that the two things, light reflected from the lips of our friend and the noises generated in her voice box, arrive at our brain at very different times. The brain integrates them with a special set of tools called sensory integration.

The funny thing about sensory integration is that there is little information about its normal function. There is a lot of information about its dysfunction. Autism, for example is widely understood to be a breakdown of the sensory integration function.  Googling the words "improve sensory integration" yields no courses for adults. It just lists fixes and therapies for broken processes.

When you stop to think, reality is more like a movie with its soundtrack out of synch than it is the experience we describe as normal. It's one of those weird truths that you usually just file away immediately after learning it. The world we experience is the result of our preferences and biases before we actually experience it.

To refine that point, the sensory input we use to generate our experience of the world reaches our senses at different times. The mind waits for the last input. Once all of the data has been received, the mind integrates it and gives us a report. That report is our experience of reality.

Our reality is as current as the last bit of data we received. From moment to moment, the things we see and hear are relics of a recent past. Our experience is a lively version of something that has already happened.

It's even worse than that.

Our mind makes up ideas based on our experience. My idea of you is a summary of judgments, experiences, predispositions, intuitions, facts, speculation and bias. Much of it takes a long time to process. It takes an even longer time to change. The same is true of your idea of me.

My idea of me (my self or self-concept) is even more complicated. Since I can't actually have an external experience of me, I am stuck trying to compare, contrast, verify, validate, project and refract my various "experiences" of you (and others) against my experiences of me. It's a lifetime's worth of Rubic's cube.

Bottom line? Self concept runs about six months behind the contemporary reality. Concept of others runs about 90 days out of phase with the actual person. Our last conversation was happening moments before it felt like we had it.

The business of teaching Recruiters to make sound decisions that are business-smart, ethical and timely is no small thing.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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