What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG)

In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.
– Dalai Lama – 

My first introduction to this acronym was during my junior year in high school. My best friend got his very first personal computer loaded with Microsoft Windows 3.1. He was bragging about his expensive new toy and mentioning acronyms that I have never heard before, WYSIWYG being one of them. It didn’t take long for me to realize that he was actually talking about something on the computer screen to look like the final product. I thought it was just going to be one of those acronyms that I will have to deal with if I pursue a career in technology.

Fast forward several years later, I was with my wife and kids at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, FL. My kids wanted to try out the Transformers 3D ride just for fun. I knew what it was about because of my early exposure to the world of virtual reality so I wasn’t really that excited. Plus, I’m not a big fan of theme parks nor rides but since my kids insisted, I obliged. I’ve read different reviews about the ride experience so I knew what to expect. However, I was really surprised. The special effects (particularly the visual ones) are remarkable. They make you feel like you are indeed a part of the whole Autobot/Decepticon war. During that experience, I’ve learned several valuable lessons that I didn’t realize were applicable to both leadership and personal life. And I’ve never thought theme park rides can teach you a few leadership lessons.

  1. The unexpected can and will happen. Outside of the ride, I could hear people screaming – both as an expression of excitement and fear. It’s hard to judge based on the sound because they’re a mix of both. So, I made a conclusion based on what I heard: this might be a scary ride. As I was handed out a pair of 3D eyeglass, I expected 3D visual effects but certainly not the heat from Starscream’s engine exhaust nor the splash of water from Bumblebee’s run across a puddle. It’s the same thing in life. We can only prepare for so much but we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. I remember a quote from the TV series Prison Break, “Preparation can only take us so far. After that, we have to take leaps of faith. We must be able to face and accept the unexpected when and as they happen.
  2. Eerie sounds are not as scary as you think they are. Didn’t I already tell you about the people screaming? They sounded scary when I heard them.  So, I reacted based on what I heard. I got scared (laugh at me all you want but I really did feel scared.) I was scared as I hopped into the ride as I could hear the screams growing louder. But I was surprised to know that they weren’t screaming because they were scared, they were screaming because they were having fun. The acoustics of the ride made it sound like they were scared when they actually weren’t. Don’t we all face the same issues when confronting our fears based on what other people say? “Oh, the stock market is volatile and the whole economy is going to crash. I feel inadequate and everyone thinks I’m a loser.” Maybe we’re not listening to the right sounds after all and we need to discipline our ears.
  3.  What you see is what you get. The 3D glasses made the experience really great. But it also amplified the emotions I felt. I saw the ride falling off a cliff as Bumblebee pulls it away from Megatron, I felt like I was falling. I saw metal chips flying towards me as Optimus Prime hits Megatron real hard, I avoided them real quick. My reactions and emotions were intense. But these are all virtual, they don’t exist. I wasn’t falling off a cliff, I was seeing the ride as if it was falling off a cliff. So, I respond,with a mix of thrill and fear. As my youngest once said after a roller coaster ride, “it felt like his heart was coming out of his chest and back.” Same thing in life. We look at the bad things that happen to or around us. How do we respond? We get scared, afraid, restless. What’ worse is we let these things settle in our mind’s eye. We think of them as we sleep, as we eat, even as we talk to others. We even verbalize them until we start to believe that they are true. That is why the Bible recommends not dwelling on the negatives but rather focusing on the positives. Because at the end of the day, we really get what we see.

As we got off the ride, I couldn’t help but ask my kids what they think about the ride. They were exhilarated and felt thrilled. I guess I needed to learn something from my kids as well. All they did was to enjoy the ride. So, I did a little experiment. I asked them if we can do it again. And, since I was wearing eyeglasses, I had a good excuse to not look at the 3D visual effects. And guess what I found out. When I looked at the 3D visual effects, I felt the same feelings I did during the first time I hopped on to the ride. But when I didn’t, I just felt the ride moving. That reduced the fear (and, unfortunately, the excitement as well.) Which really proves the point – what we see is what we get.

As we are still in the early weeks of this new year, we need to ask ourselves this question: Are we expecting a great year ahead of us or do we just want to maintain the status quo? Remember, what you see or decide to look at is eventually what you’ll get.

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