Perception vs. Reality

The Tooth Fairy.

The Easter Bunny.

Santa Claus.

Each of these characters were as real to me as my parents and brothers were real. I remember clearly the day I realized these characters were not actually real, they were only celebrated cultural icons. I believed in these creatures. The truth did not matter, however, because these characters gave me hope, inspired me, gave me something to look forward to when times were tough or uncomfortable.

My perception of these characters were not actual reality, but they were my reality. These characters were real to me even if they didn’t exist in the logical world and were made up by my parents. Why do we perpetuate these kinds of myths, especially with children? I’ll save that answer for another day.

Perception versus reality. Does it matter? Surely not to a child ripe with excitement and anticipation for what they might receive in the morning. Is there anything more wonderful than to witness the delight of a child on Christmas morning? In my house it was equally as exciting to see what the Tooth Fairy left us or what we might receive in our Easter baskets as it was to see what Santa had brought down from the North Pole.

I’ve been listening to and reading a lot about what live sports and entertainment will be like post-pandemic. The same questions keep coming up with the same answers – mostly that things will never be the same. But what does that mean exactly? Well surely no one knows right now. But what does that matter? The only thing that matters is someone’s perception of what it will be. Or what it is when we actually get to fill stadiums and arenas again.

Do we feel safe? Do we feel clean? Do we trust others to wash their hands, cover their sneezes and stay home if they aren’t feeling well? Do we feel like the venue is safe, clean, sanitized? Do we feel safe that the food is cooked and free of viruses? Regardless of whether or not these things are true, the only thing that matters to the fans is how they feel about it. You have to do the work to make sure everyone knows the rules, but we don’t control how fans will feel, we influence.

How do you control how fans feel about the experience? In short, you can’t control their feelings. But you can influence what they know when you communicate what you’re doing to make them feel safe, feel welcomed and feel like you are complying with health experts. You can share your new protocols online, on visual aids, on audio channels to remind about hand washing, mask wearing and what six feet actually looks like.

“To be unclear, is to be unkind.” I don’t remember who said this, but it’s one of those sayings that’s been with me for years. Communication is a tricky thing because it’s often difficult to tell if someone understands. Surely it’s easier in dialogue with one other person or a small group, but how do you tell if your fans or community are actually listening and understand? Do everything you can to be clear. Concise. To the point.

Control perception and you control reality. Control as much reality as you can and you control perception. It’s not enough to do the work. You have to tell people about it. You also have to know what your fans want, then the hard part is actually giving it to them.

Do work that matters and let people know about it. If it matters, it will resonate. People like us do things like this. Go Forth.

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