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Developing Perceptual Intelligence

December 5, 2023 by Twan van de Kerkhof

We think that our perception is a reflection of reality, but in fact our reality is a reflection of our perception. Because who we are determines what we see and what we perceive determines how we develop, we better make sure to use our perception to our advantage. That is the central message of Linda Guijt in her very well-researched book about perception. This is particularly important for leaders because perceptual intelligence equips them to thrive in a complex environment.

Observations and interpretations are not an objective reflection of reality, but a subjective reconstruction, Linda Guijt writes. Everything we do is shaped by our perception, from mundane daily activities to the most important decisions. Most of the time we are completely unaware of our perception. As long as we are unaware, our perception is in control. We should take back control by developing perceptual intelligence, Linda suggests. Everyone can shape the most positive and fruitful perception given the circumstances and use it to achieve better results.

Our perception is a useful tool to guide us through life. We are simply unable to process all the information there is. Our perception allows us to only perceive patterns that are helpful to survive and reproduce.

But it also gets in the way, because it narrows down the possibilities. We can only develop and expand our opportunities if we can control our perception. That starts by becoming aware of our perceptions, but awareness is not enough. We have to take conscious actions to develop new patterns. Examples that Linda describes are exaptation (finding new functions for the same talent or trait), experimenting, putting up blockages to force new routes, and more.

It all starts with a growth mindset: the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Talent is just a starting point, growth never stops. This is an important mindset for leaders.

The book has been published in Dutch, but the author is working on an English translation.

Linda Guijt. Perceptie. Verrassende inzichten die je leven voor altijd veranderen. VMN Media, 2023