Unconscious Bias and Passion

I find it pretty amazing to look back on my life’s path, and see how things come together. This story is a short flashback about exactly that, but with a twist.

It’s interesting to see how the human mind works, and to understand some of its intricacies. Things like bias, for example – your patterns of thought and behavior, some learned and some naturally formed, that guide you through life whether you want them to or not. You have to watch out for these biases, because they can be misleading, but you cannot completely ignore them because many can also serve you well.

The University of California, San Francisco defines bias as “a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair. Biases may be held by an individual, group, or institution and can have negative or positive consequences.” They also define unconcious bias as “social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.”

Unconscious bias isn’t just about stereotyping, discrimination or racism, however — there are also other types of bias, such as Affinity Bias, Attribution Bias, Beauty Bias, Conformity Bias, Confirmation Bias, Contrast Effect, Gender Bias, Halo Effect, and Horns Effect, to name a few.

This is where I want to have some fun — perhaps there’s also a bias or tendency toward your passion! Whether you have “found your calling” or are “following your passion” or not, maybe you find that no matter what you do, you always seem to lean back into this particular behavior. What do you think?

“You never actually leave your passion, you just go through a different path to later meet again.”

-Naim Zainal

For me it started in middle school – I participated in the school-wide video announcement program, running cameras and mixing video “live” to a tape deck. The tape would be played back the next day for school announcements. By high school, I had picked up video editing, and received an award from my peers for being the class “shutterbug.”

In middle school, I also began my IT skills by taking the cover off of an old Apple computer with a pair of 5.25″ floppy drives and a green monochrome monitor, blowing the dust out and rebooting, which fixed any issues and allowed me to play Oregon Trail. This led to teachers calling me out of class to fix their Windows 95 and Windows 98 machines because the school IT support was too slow for their liking.

photo of camera recording an audience and presenter

As a new millennium began, I opened a computer repair and graphic design business, which I ran for 11 years. Through this business, I built websites, fixed computers, and trained computer users on how to perform tasks more efficiently and easily.

I’ve volunteered or worked side jobs for years running sound and lighting for live events and church services – managing dozens if not hundreds of buttons and blinking lights to help make sure that other people look and sound great.

Fast forward to more recent history, and you’ll find that I’m an HR professional with an IT background who loves training and professional development, and I use video and photography to create impactful training that learners are eager to be a part of.

How did this happen?

Yesterday I was on LinkedIn and saw a great post from Gary Vaynerchuk, and a great comment from Naim Zainal on that post, he said, “You never actually leave your passion, you just go through a different path to later meet again.”

That’s when it hit me once again (was it Confirmation Bias?) that everything I’ve done in life has leaned toward this passion of mine to poke buttons, manage the flashing lights, and help people look great in their successes.

  • When I am behind a camera, I’m trying to tell a story.
  • When I’m behind a sound board, I’m trying to help the story be heard.
  • When I’m editing video or building training content, I’m trying to help the story be meaningful and memorable.

I’ve gone down several paths that on the surface didn’t align with my passions, only to find myself widening those same paths so they can include the things I’m passionate about. God continues to be good and I’m grateful for these blessings along the way.

What are you doing to learn and improve daily? What are you looking forward to growing into? Are you waiting on a sign? Are you waiting on someone else? Make today your someday, and takes steps each day to help you reach your goals.

Oh, and while you’re at it – be kind to people, and be conscious about the unconscious bias in the room.

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