Our own perception is the only lens we have to view the universe through. What we perceive is what is. It is our subjective reality. Where our perception as individuals overlaps with the perception of others is reality. That area of overlap is perhaps the most intriguing excerpt of the human experience. A large portion of that imbrication is what we assess people on, often in ways that are only tangentially related to what we are concluding. It can be something as important as the differences or similarities in taste in books or as uninspiring as political or religious differences.

A perfect example of this is the perceived difference in scoring in two winter sports. Football is America’s most popular team sport, hockey is regarded as a low scoring event that could do with more scoring. But let’s take a look at how the two sports are scored. Hockey is pretty simple: Puck completely passes goal line, one tally on the board. Football: six points for doing your job, three points for failing to do your job, one or sometimes two points for extending the celebration of doing your job. Or in the more common parlance, seven points for a touchdown and point after, and three points for a field goal.

The Pittsburgh Steelers who entered the Sunday 11/6 game against Baltimore undefeated had 19 touchdowns in 8 games, and were the only undefeated team in the NFL. The Toronto Maple Leafs who like the Steelers led their conference going into the weekend, had scored 45 goals in 13 games.¬† That means the Maple Leafs were scoring 3.46 times per game and the Steelers racking up touchdowns at a pace of 2.37 times a game. Oddly enough if you ask casual sports fans¬† or non fans they will tell you “nothing happens” in hockey and that football is more exciting because there is more scoring. I may be a little confused, it’s happened but something tells me this is one of those places where the artful manipulation of perception warps the reality.

By awarding “points” that don’t have a linear translation to scoring events, it is easy to distract from the fact that only a small number of events are actually happening. The NFL has increased the number of points per touchdown more than once in history to be perceived as higher scoring, but take a look at the over/under online or in a newspaper for the weekend and you’ll find the two sports are pretty similar in scoring events, 5.5 is the line for most NHL games and 42-44 is about where most NFL games end up. Six scoring events or so each.

The ability to drive the perception of others is how people end up in leadership positions. It can be someone like Marshall Applewhite:

or George Washington no one can deny that even more effective than making the body go where the head leads is getting the person to follow where their perceptions lead.