Monday, June 22, 2009

Scott Adams talks About Misdirection

Misdirection is the idea that you can disguise a bad or negative thing that is left in plain view by having something else more distracting/more attractive/more positive that steals the show.

Case in point, from Scott Adams' Blog:

"Years ago a suit salesman gave me a tip that has always stuck with me. He said that people won't notice you're bald if you keep yourself very fit. He was a good example of this. I literally hadn't noticed he was bald until he made the comment. My first impression of him had been dominated by the fact he was so obviously fit. It was a brilliant case of misdirection. And it made me think about all the ways people mitigate their bad luck.

Generally speaking, a high level of fitness can compensate for whatever imperfect genes your parents gave you. Fitness is enough to achieve good looks if you bother to dress well, take care of your skin, and get a good haircut.

And fitness, along with a good diet, can also suppress the most common killer diseases that your genes might predispose you to. You can't prevent bad luck, but you can keep it at bay."

Amen to that.

I have two other cases of misdirection. The first is not fitness related, it has everything to do with my day to day job. If I truly worked on all six cylinders, as my Dad says, then I'd probably have finished all work our contract would have required from us. Seven times over. But we don't get paid like that (rather, my company doesn't get paid like that). That's why most of the posts that you see here are made between the hours of 9 and 5. Typing away furiously gives me the impression of looking busy. My impressive process flow flashes on the screen now and then. My appearing to be busy is my misdirection to the fact that I'm just screwing around. Or maybe that's just called deception.

The other case is fitness related, but this has to do with a topic that is less about health, more about gym time. And maybe it's not called misdirection, maybe it's just ways to combat preceptions. Go with me here, it's a Monday...

The first and only personal trainer I've ever had was at my college's gym, which was and is still the best gym I've ever used. As she was putting me through the paces on what exercises I needed to be doing, she stopped short before we entered the glassed off section that featured free weights. My college is not known for having meat heads, but they do exist. It seems they all ate, slept, and socialized there because I never saw these hulks outside of the gym. Regardless, she asked "before we go in, are you comfortable in there?"


Turns out, some people (women, typically) have a big issue using the free weight area that is typically dominated by men. Some gyms have responded to this fear (and growing evidence that women need to do some form of weight lifting) by creating a "women's only" area. I wasn't actually adverse to the idea of going into the weight room until my trainer had pointed it out.

The misdirection works in two ways. First, negatively for the guys. While there are some dudes in there who are all about coming in, getting a workout, peacing out without bothering anyone...they are lost in the crowd of glimmering, grunting, gym aholics. I literally saw a guy with a protein shake in a water bottle when I was at the gym last. Talk about misdirection from the other 8 normal guys who were there.

The second type of misdirection in a gym is as a chick who has anxiety about using the weight room but still wants to. Give the impression that you know what you're doing and the hulking idiots who are too busy checking themselves out/checking everyone else out to see if they have an audience, will lose interest. Less misdirection, more camoflage, I guess.

I happen to have no issue using the weight room, but that was after a bit of misdirection practice with the free weights by the ab mats.

Regardless. Scott Adams' suit salesman remains correct. Be fit and healthy and you're going to get away with a lot of mistakes.

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