Avoiding Mental Prejudice

Prejudice is a great time saver. It enables you to form impressions without getting the facts.

We all know about racial prejudice or religious prejudice. It’s ugly. It prevents relationship building and almost always brings disaster.

But have you ever noticed how much mental prejudice there is? There are a lot of uninformed people spouting off their opinions as facts, even though they didn’t take the time to get the facts.

The results are sometimes silly. People make fools of themselves. It’s like the person who said, “There’s a woman somewhere in this world giving birth every 10 seconds. She’s got to be found and stopped.”

Other times, when people fail to get the facts, they impose undue burdens on others. That’s often the case with the legislation passed by Congress. When the federal income tax was signed into law in 1913, a Senator speaking in opposition to the bill stated, “If we allow this one-percent tax in the door, at some future date it might rise to five percent!”

Unfortunately, when people don’t get the facts, or when people think they don’t need any more facts, the results can be deadly. General George Custer found that out.

Custer went against all the rules of decision making. He denied himself information. He made no effort to gauge his opponents’ strength. Even though he had never faced a sizeable force of skilled warriors, he would not let his scouts do any advance information gathering. He didn’t think he needed it. And they all paid for Custer’s prejudice with their lives.

I have two suggestions. To avoid prejudice and all of its accompanying problems, take these tips to heart.

=> 1. Get As Much Information As You Can.

Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking school is out. Don’t ever stop the learning process. I assure you that the more you learn, the better off you’ll be.

It’s like the three riders crossing the desert on horseback one night. As they were riding, a voice from heaven said, “Halt and dismount.” They got off their horses.

Then the voice said, “Dig down into the riverbed and take some stones and put them in your saddle bags.” The men complied.

The voice continued, “Remount your horses and ride. And tomorrow when you remember this event, it will be both the happiest and saddest day of your life.”

The men rode all night. The next day, they and their horses collapsed from exhaustion. They all fell asleep.

When they awoke, one of the riders said, “Brothers, we should get rid of those stones in our saddle bags because they are weighing us down and slowing us down.” They all agreed, and one by one they took out the stones.

But to their amazement, the stones had turned to diamonds. Now the men laughed, shouted, and sang for joy — until one of the men waved his arms. He said, “Brothers, wait. Why are we so happy? We should be crying. Last night we could have filled our saddle bags with stones — that would have turned into diamonds. We missed our chance to be rich beyond comprehension.”

Then they knew what the voice meant — about this being their happiest and saddest day. And that’s the way it is with education. You may be happy with the education you already have, but you’ll be better off if you get more.

Teri Rokusek, the First Vice President of Lincoln Savings Bank, learned that. She said, “Dr. Z’s PEAK PERFORMANCE BOOT CAMP was a life changing experience for me! I had read his ‘Tuesday Tips,’ listened to his tapes, and I had even seen him speak now and then. However, experiencing the Boot Camp was just that, an experience!”

“On the personal side, I give this Boot Camp credit for saving my marriage, enhancing my relationship with my son, getting me back to church, bringing exercise into my life on a regular basis, and getting me to a financial
planner. On the professional side, Dr. Zimmerman’s Boot Camp helped me with my latest promotion and salary increase.”

That’s great news. Even better news, the more you learn, the more you help others. Terri went on to confirm that. She said, “After your PEAK PERFORMANCE BOOT CAMP, I started to spread Dr. Zimmerman’s material throughout our Leadership trainings. We purchased his program on ‘Creating Customer Service Champions,’ several copies of his book on ‘Brave Questions: How To Build Stronger Relationships By Asking All The Right Questions,’ and his DVD on Take This Job and Love It: A Program For Managing Stress, Preventing Burnout, and Balancing Life.’ We are using all of his material in our organization.”

Terri finished by saying, “I just can’t say enough about the ripple effect of my attendance at the Boot Camp. And I would be happy to talk to anyone who might be considering attending!”

A lack of education and a lack of peak performance are almost always linked together. But fortunately, you don’t have to live that way. So I urge you to keep on learning. Don’t make the same mistakes or fall into the same traps as the uninformed. And the more education you receive, the less prejudice you’ll have.

=> 2. Search For Better, Not Right.

It’s a great way to avoid prejudice.

The minute you believe your way is the “right” way, all other ways will be “wrong.” That attitude will stop you from moving forward. It’s the way prejudice works.

I like Bob Proctor’s approach. He says, “The next time you hear yourself saying, ‘That’s right or I’m right,’ correct yourself immediately by repeating, ‘That’s a good way, and I might act on it. However, there is a better way, and I will look for it’.”

There’s always a better way. The first telephones, for example, were a “good” way to communicate. They were obviously “better” than the Pony Express or the Morse Code telegraph. But history has proven that the first telephones were not the “best” way to communicate. By comparison with today’s telephone systems, they were terrible.

Think of your own job in terms of “better” instead of “right.” You could very easily be trapped into doing your job the same way because you believe it’s the “right” way. And indeed, what you are doing may work, and it’s probably effective. But there’s always a “better” way. Look for it and give it a try. It’ll keep you free of prejudice.

You need to listen to the timeless advice of Mark Twain. He said, “Take your mind out every now and then and dance on it. It is getting all caked up.”

Action:  The next time you find yourself thinking that you’re right, stop yourself. Remind yourself that even though your thoughts or your approach may be good, there’s always a better way. Look for and write down two or three better ways. And give one of them a try.