The Difference in Perception … the Devil is the Details

Mike Schoultz
3 min readAug 12, 2020


Mark Twain once said: It ain’t what you don’t know that will hurt you. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. A difference in perception?

Do the details guide you in distinguishing reality versus perception? Or do they create a difference in perception? What do you think? Maybe this story will help elaborate.

Disney knew the value of a story. Let’s define each term to be sure we are on the same page. Perception is how you see things. Reality is how things really are. An important difference to you? Yes.

Here is a short story to illustrate why: A heart surgeon took his car to his local garage for a regular service, where he usually exchanged a little friendly banter with the owner, a very skilled but not especially wealthy mechanic.

Another story: The Story of Tank the Dog or Is It, Reggie?

“So tell me,” says the mechanic, “I’ve been wondering about what we both do for a living, and how much more you get paid than me…”Yes?” says the surgeon.“Well look at this,” says the mechanic, as he worked on a big complicated BMW engine, “I check how it’s running, open it up, fix the valves, and put it all back together so it works well as new. We basically do the same job, don’t we? And yet you are paid ten times what I am — how do you explain that?”

The surgeon thought for a moment, and smiling gently, replied quietly to the mechanic, “Try it with the engine running.” he very subtle but significant difference between perception and reality in this story, no?

Key takeaways:

Do you think both the heart surgeon and the mechanic love what they do? More than likely yes. If the mechanic lived with the perception that his job was essentially the same as the heart surgeon and he was therefore underpaid, would he be happy? Probably not.

If we focus on details between perception and reality, we will ultimately live a happier and more content live.

Another great story: Never Give Up Your DreamsA big deal, yes?



Mike Schoultz

Mike Schoultz writes about improving the performance of business. Bookmark his blog for stories and articles.