Self-defining terms of relativity (SDTR), very simple concept with a funky name to it. I have been thinking about what this meant for quite some time and as I was watching Into The Wild last night on Netflix, it inspired me to write. I want to talk about what this term means and how we can be cognizant of it in our everyday lives.

The word is something I threw together one day and it is defined exactly as it sounds. Terms that you define based on your relative circumstances, meaning you understand or perceive the word to be true based on the experiences you’ve had in your life and the standard that is relative in your surroundings. Here are some examples; wealthy, rich, intelligent, happiness, friendly, success, etc.. Adjectives that are used to describe something that changes based on your background and upbringing. Let’s take wealthy as an example.

Within in the U.S. we can see completely different salary ranges and qualities of life from the east to the west coast. In one area $100,000 may make you a rich man, while in others the standard is $500,000 while in other countries maybe $10,000 is the standard. That is, if you describe wealth based on money. Coming from the Midwest I have a higher emphasis on the people in my life like friends and family that also make me wealthy. Maybe your definition of wealth is the summation of the experiences you’ve had from travelling or joining the Peace Corps. All of these things can mean wealth to different people, and it changes from person to person. The same goes for any of the other words I spoke about before, we have different perceptions on what the “standard” of these words mean based on our life experiences and our cities and towns we live in.

Why does any of this matter? Its pertinent because in the world we live in communication is extremely important in making decisions and having progress. Understanding that the people we work with in business and in a personal setting have different perceptions and concepts of how our world works. Next time you’re talking with someone and can’t seem to get the point across or may be having a tough time with understanding what they are talking about, think about SDTR. You may have a miscommunication surrounding the definition of what their talking about or what you have said. We all perceive and understand the world from our point of view, so don’t be so quick to jump to a conclusion in communicating with someone.

Walk a mile. Ask a question. Try to understand where other people are coming from before you jump to a position surrounding their understanding of the situation. We are all shaped by the surroundings and experiences we live in and we often forget that we aren’t all the same. One of the greatest and most beautiful things about people is that we are all so unique and different. Take that extra time to understand someone’s background and continue to be open minded in the way you communicate and how you interact with people in the world.

On purpose,

Matt

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