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Distorting reality – appropriate or just plain lying?

In Steve Job’s biography Walter Isaacson talks of Job’s reality distortion field (RDF) > where he would present things as real that just weren’t in order to influence, cajole, hoodwink or bully others to his will (pick whichever of those fits the argument you are making at the time…)

Was he just a liar, or is there something deeper at play here?

When a new idea is formed in the mind of an inventor his view of the world changes compared to those who have not yet visualised what has been imagined. I think this was in part what Job’s was doing. He saw the way different types of font could be used on a computer to create beautiful graphics right at the start of the Apple journey, but nobody else did, at that point, he distorted their reality to allow them to see it an build it. A shift to bitmapped graphics, a new world, from mind to paper, to device.

Jobs is reported to have often used the RDF to make seemingly impossible tasks possible and they were then delivered. It’s here that it’s cited as being an inappropriate distortion, yet it did get results. When people believe something is possible they act differently from when they believe it is impossible. Both can be self fulfilling belief’s for the same task.

In another example of this Bob Geldof’s vision for Live Aid was nearly derailed early on because bands were not prepared to commit thinking that the project was to aggressive in timing and dependent on all the main acts of the time performing freely. In the end Geldof simply lied to each band about others signing up, to create the situation that ‘If (e.g.) U2 are doing it then we (e.g. Queen) must” and then calling e.g. U2 to tell them that e.g. Queen was on board. By doing so he created a different reality for the bands that he spoke to and made the event possible.

Visionaries do this, they distort current reality and bend it to their vision, that brings others in to be able to see their vision, and then they bend their reality. Pretty soon the world is on board.

Do you agree with their methods and, if so, what would you like to distort reality about?

William Buist
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