If Perception Determines Your Paycheck, What Are You (Really) Worth? Career

Your perception of yourself and how others perceive you directly affects how successful you are in any given area of life.

Until we see ourselves as being of great value and having outstanding products and services to offer, we’re not going to crack this game.

Perception Determines Whether We Get Paid or Not

Understanding perception and defining perception determines whether you get paid or not.

Let me explain this with an example; you may have seen or heard this before.

In 2007, the Washington Post ran an experiment in context, perception and priorities. A young man stood in a Washington Metro Station and played a violin for 43 minutes whilst 1,097 people walked past. In that time, the violinist made $32.17 and a couple of people stopped briefly to listen to him play.

The guy playing the violin was Joshua Bell, one of the world’s greatest classical musicians who sells out shows for the minimum of $100 a ticket. He was playing on a 3.5 million dollar violin.

It doesn’t matter that this man is by far and away the greatest living violinist, or that he played some of the most difficult and intricate compositions in the world. Almost nobody paid him with attention, time or money.

How Do You Perceive Value?

This leads me to discuss how humans perceive and attribute value to things.

Perception is the result of the information you’re given about something, as well the beliefs you form in relation to it, and context plays a role as well, but I don’t think it’s as important as perception and resulting beliefs.

In the case of Joshua Bell, only one person who passed through that metro station knew who he was, and she stopped to listen.

The other two people who stopped to listen knew enough about the music being played to have an appreciation for the violinist’s ability to do so with such grace and finesse.

In order to be paid attention, time or money, your audience needs to be informed about who you are and your history – or story - that qualifies you and your product or service. If the commuters in the metro station were told:

  • the violinist was one of the world’s greatest classical musicians, or
  • they would normally have to pay at least $100 to listen to him play, or
  • he was playing some of the most intricate and difficult compositions ever written.

They would have the information needed to shift their perceptions about the performance. The information would have changed the beliefs they formed about the musician and what he was playing, and their shift in perception and beliefs would in turn affect their actions.

I’m not saying that everyone would have stopped and listened and paid him money, but he certainly would have been paid a lot more of the commuters’ time, attention and money.

How Does Perception Affect Your Business?

So, how does this relate to your business?

Your audience needs to know how and why you qualify to be deserving of their attention, time and money.

Your audience needs to know what makes you and your product or service so different, valuable and compelling that it’s in their best interests to pay you with some of their time, attention and money.

It’s that simple.

The problem is, even though it is simple, it’s also annoyingly tricky.

The whole world is out there vying for your customer’s time, attention and money. You need to provide the most compelling and comprehensive body of evidence that you’re among the top trustworthy and qualified authorities in your niche.

There are many ways to do this - generate publicity, get raving reviews, or be associated with a high profile person. There are more creative methods that you can research, try, or innovate.

What I would consider, though, is to try every angle and then work on the 80/20 rule. Then I’ll focus on whichever one gives me the most bang for my buck.