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Magnus and the Seven Forms of Invisibility

 Magnus and the Seven Forms of Invisibility

As children, most of us wanted to be invisible at one time or another. Some dreamed about how cool it would be while others wanted to reserve that power for those times when they were called on in class, asked to give a speech, or when choosing sides for team sports.

Whatever we thought, I’m sure we can all agree that if the world around us was invisible… well, that wouldn’t be cool at all.  Unfortunately, according to Magnus Lindkvist, writing in his book, "Everything You Know is Wrong", that describes the situation perfectly.

Magnus makes his living as a trend-spotter and it’s his job to keep both his mind and his eyes open - so to speak – and to let business leaders (and us) in on what he discovers. There’s a lot going on in the world that most of us miss. According to Magnus, there are seven “shades” of invisibility and most of us are afflicted with one or more of these “blind spots”. Which ones resonate with you?

1. Invisibility by gradualism – the changes were too slow for us to notice. Long term changes are difficult to spot because we learn to adapt.  Magnus notes that many of us would be alarmed and outraged should our local government begin posting signs near lakes and rivers warning of poison, but few of us even blink an eye when the news forecast speaks of smog or water unfit to drink.  Simply put, we no longer notice.

2. Invisibility by miniscule changes – We couldn’t see the forest for all those damn trees! For all our adaptability, we often see things as static and unchanging when in fact, they are not.  Magnus gives examples of mountains, international borders, and large corporations all of which are in the process of changing “right before our eyes”; yet we don’t recognize it.  As he says, “we were so busy watching the forest we didn’t notice that the trees had moved on.”

3. Invisibility by suddenness - We blinked and missed it. We are often surprised by what we believe to be sudden and unpredictable change. We just don’t look behind the curtain for the details or for clues that would tell us this sudden event or the pressures that bring about change have been building for a long time.

4. Invisibility by linear thinking – We fail to think exponentially! We like predictability. We may like it a bit too much because much of our thinking about the future reflects that mindset. Change rarely follows an orderly progression.

5. Invisibility by presentism – We believe that tomorrow will be like today, more or less. Magnus says that we don’t consider changes that may "challenge our view of the world." His point is that “we want to think that only the leaves on the tree will change and not the tree’s stem and branches.”

6. Invisibility by myopia – We believe that our world is the world.  We all live in our own constructed reality. And while we need to share that belief with other like-minded individuals, the truth of the matter is that our reality is not an accurate reflection of the real world – just our personal view of it.

7. Invisibility by pessimism – Since we are all doomed, how can things get better? We worry too much. We focus on the negative. The news is full of doom and gloom and as a species, we are loss-adverse – meaning we fear loss more than we value gain. By focusing our attention on the negative, we may very well miss (or dismiss) changes that indicate the world around us is getting better and that there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful.


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