How often do we perceive, not what is, but a narrow viewpoint bounded by what we believe?
Several years ago, I remember reading an article in Fast Company (a cutting edge business magazine) about the new face of Al Jazeera, the Arabic news channel. Al Jazeera is the Arabic news channel that has aired video messages from Middle East terrorists, kidnappers and Osama Bin Laden.
Apparently, AJI (Al Jazeera International) gained esteem despite its past offenses. Highly respected journalists are staffing its operations, imported from legitimate news organizations such as the BBC, CNN, NightLine and Associated Press Television. AJI professes a rigorous code of ethics and the loftiest news-gathering goals. “The mission of Al Jazeera International is to provide accurate and impartial news with a global perspective.”
Their mission is clearly attractive to journalists who feel that many news organizations are no longer objective but ruled by advertiser’s dollars reporting, “… from a culturally specific viewpoint that eclipses many important stories and issues.”
Couple of years ago, AJI was in New York City hosting a meeting designed to locate cable distributors and advertisers for its new English language channel. They met with an icy reception. One agency executive that places advertising on cable channels said, “Politically, this is a nightmare. Never in a billion years would I bring this to our clients.”
What first came to my mind as I read this was: Why would they ever consider that this could work? Local cable providers, like Comcast, will run, not walk, from AJI. Pepsi will never book time for one of its commercials. What were they thinking?
This perception is distinctly American. When asked a question, dejected after his experience at the New York sales meeting, AJI’s marketing VP simply said, “America is only one country.”
In fact, Al Jazeera English global footprint continues to grow, broadcasting to more than 220 million households in more than 100 countries. There are over one billion English speakers around the world, including some of the fastest-growing economies on the planet. There are hundreds of international companies that most Americans have never heard of, lining up to buy advertising time on AJI.
My reaction at that time was: this is a fruitless, futile attempt. But, when I allowed my perception to shift, ever so slightly, my initial assessment wasn’t even close to being accurate.
The story of AJI illustrates how we don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are. Life – business, families, economies, and culture – are constantly evolving. Change is always with us, and can be particularly frightening viewed through what we know. Beyond our “perception- shattering moments”, when we are open to what is, we encounter a whole new world full of exciting possibilities far beyond the beliefs that limit us.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.