What-is & Wanted vs. Unwanted: wishful thinking

I was in the UP of Michigan recently. While driving near the Seney National Wildlife Refuge that sprawls for some 95,000 acres, I saw two moose: a large bull moose with antlers and a smaller female cow.

We’d been on the lookout for moose during the entire trip, so it was exciting to finally see some.

We screeched the car to a halt, turned around, and drove back to take photos. A couple of shots in and we realized the moose weren’t moving. At all.

Then we realized they weren’t moose.

Duped by a couple of tree stumps.

After the disappointment and tinge of embarrassment had subsided, I realized I’d conjured those moose. I’d brought them into existence—if only momentarily—with my wishful thinking.

After seeing only a tiny green snake earlier that day, I badly wanted to see some “real” wildlife. If you add the color and outline of a couple of tree stumps viewed from a moving car along with with my desire, you have moose.

It’s easy to see what we want to see.

Sometimes this is a wonderful trait because it allows us to create based on the wishful thinking of what we envision in our minds. But it can also work against us when we’re unable (or refuse) to see what’s really there.

For instance, I recently began working with someone unhappy in her corporate job. She’s contemplating leaving Cubeland and going out on her own.

As someone who’s made that journey, I fully support anyone who wants to explore the desire and possibility of pursuing their passion and hanging out their own shingle.

However, she’s focused entirely on how much she dislikes corporate life, and is blindly seeing what she wants to see: If she can only leave the confines of her current job, everything will be perfect.

Unfortunately, disliking your job is not a business plan.

The discontent may fuel motivation, but it’s not enough simply to dislike your job (or, for that matter, to want to see moose). You have to be willing to see what’s really there.

In my client’s case, seeing what’s really there means looking at whether there is viability in the market for her business idea and if she has the necessary skills.

Are you seeing what’s really there? Is wishful thinking keeping you “blind” to some reality that would be better faced?