3 min read

RedYellowDoorsPreconceptions … we all have them, about everything – that guy looks mean, she looks smart, that course will be hard, that jacket will be expensive.  We form a judgement “in advance of adequate knowledge or experience” – the definition of preconception.

As with most types of judgement, preconceptions can be limiting – especially when they are about ourselves.

We recently visited the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo for a building tour and there was a science and physics expo going on at the same time.  There were lots of demonstrations of cool scientific and mathematic stuff.  Given that I am neither scientifically nor mathematically inclined and that the displays were fairly crowded, I just skimmed past most of them.  However, the guy with the slinky caught my attention.  He was explaining how he does science experiments on You Tube to explain various theories.  He asked the group what happens when you drop a slinky – how does it fall based on gravity, etc.  He looked right at me first and waited so I thought I’d better offer an answer.  He was holding the slinky in the air and I said, in a quiet and unsure voice, that the top will drop down until it meets the bottom.  Now this answer was based on absolutely no knowledge of gravity whatsoever.  He gave me a stony look and moved on to the next person.

My preconception – I am not good at advanced math or science.

Confirmation of my preconception – science guy at the Perimeter Institute just gave me a stony look and did not even comment on my answer because it was so unbelievably stupid that it didn’t even warrant a response.

If I had walked away at that moment I would have left with my preconception validated.  Fortunately, I waited until the end of the demonstration and it turns out that I was right.  The top drops until it meets the bottom.  I was still so sure that I couldn’t have been right that I asked my husband to confirm that my answer had been correct.  Now I’m not telling you this to sing the praises of my science problem solving abilities.  It was a lucky guess.  What I do want to point out is that I had a preconception about myself and my abilities.  When the science guy didn’t even acknowledge that I had spoken, that preconception led me to believe it was because my answer was stupid.  In actual fact, he ignored my answer because it was the first answer and too early in the “show” to have the right answer.  He wanted to play to the crowd a bit more and get lots of answers so that when he showed us the slinky falling it would have a more profound effect.

My perception of reality based on my preconception – my answer was too stupid for the smart science guy to even comment on.

Actual reality – my answer was correct but was ignored because the timing was wrong.

What preconceptions do you have about yourself?  How are those preconceptions clouding your perception of reality and limiting you?  Food for thought this Halloween.

About Lisa Ivaldi

Lisa loves sharing information that will have a positive impact. is a personal growth blog that uses personal stories and expert theories to share ideas and perspectives. Sometimes looking at things slightly differently can make a huge difference.
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2 Responses to Preconceptions

  1. Andrea Kiff says:

    Great post Lisa! Good to get us thinking about ourselves and our businesses. Andrea

    Andrea Kiff ajar designs ink. Desktop Publishing and Print Specialist

    Office: 519-747-0934 Cell: 519-880-5256

    Follow me on Twitter @ajardesignsink


  2. Laurie says:

    Great insight Lisa! I do that too. When someone ignores me I assume they’re not interested in me. Often, they’re preoccupied with their own stuff. If we knew how little people were focused on us we would be a lot less worried about what people think of us!

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