Saturday, August 2, 2014

Perceiving Reality

Discrimination due to age is one of the great tragedies of modern life. The desire to work and be useful is what makes life worth living, and to be told your efforts are not needed because you are the wrong age is a crime.  - Johnny Ball

Your best cakes are ahead of you.
Has anyone noticed on the LinkedIn home page, which is accessed millions of times each day and used by just about everyone who has any type of career, the six faces LinkedIn chose to represent their universe of professionalism... all appear to be in their 20's? 

What does that tell us? 

This past week, I've been pondering perceptions and how they affect us... including our careers. It all began with a light conversation with a colleague, one who's highly respected in our industry and responsible for the placement, or not, of domestic workers into some of the best positions available. Cut to the chase... 50 is the new 100, and my career options, should I be so inclined to explore them at 55 would be, as he very politely informed me... extremely limited.

They don't want to deal with the health issues of older workers.

After about ten seconds of stunned silence (mine), I inquired with my friend if he thought it matters that I work out and swim a mile 4x/week, don't smoke or do drugs, am not overweight, and am in better physical condition than most people half my age?

Well, no, not really, that doesn't matter. 

More stunned silence, as I realized I'd just failed to demonstrate a connection between that and health issues.


At least it's gluten-free!
We spend a lot of our lives creating perceptions in others, so we can get the things we want. This doesn't take a PhD in psychology, nor am I revealing anything new to Citizen readership, yet simply hoping the discussions can open up challenging our perceptions of what really matters, or not, when valuing others. This seems to be the big elephant in the room no one can ever talk about, except in hushed whispers. Or, can we?

In my career, I've seen domestic candidates valued, or not, because the perception of the race they were born into as being hard working enough, or not. And some others valued, or not, because the perception of their gender as being authoritarian enough, or sensitive enough, or not. And still others valued, or not, because the perception of their particular age making them seem to be healthy enough, or not.

Today I wondered if I was, myself, trying to create the perception in others that actually being physically fit is a better indicator of health and endurance than a person's age might typically indicate, when I started the NYC Domestic Staff Physical Fitness Meetup. Could what a person actually does - and is capable of doing - be a better indicator of their value, better than either the color or the age of their skin? Or, that people, in 
What if we perceived being physically fit... as a valuable reality?
whatever station of life they are, have ongoing chances to improve for their own benefit, just as much as for their employers? Or, do I simply like working out, hiking and exploring Central Park, and finding new places for a healthy brunch on Sunday mornings... and I wanted the pleasure of introducing those great experiences to others, while at the same time getting to know more people in my domestic worker community?

Well, yes, really, all of that seems to matter!