Life, Liberty, & Happiness

Privilege Is a Lens


rivilege is a lens. And sadly, we often don't see it even though it is right in front of our eyes. Literally in front of our eyes.

Instead, we see through privilege as it were a lens. We assume we are seeing things in their absolute reality, neither magnified nor tinted. Often more damaging, we assume everyone should see what "we see." If they don't see the world as we see it, we blame it on their lenses, lenses that are so evident to us.

Privilege is especially insidious in distorting our view. It causes us to see others through a filter that discounts them or assumes their plight may be of their own doing - a set of bad choices or the lack of trying. When I hear "why don't they just get at job" or "if they would just work harder they would get the promotion" - it's often (not always) privilege speaking.

Sometimes these lenses are glasses, sometimes they are contacts, sometimes the lens of privilege is thick like cataracts. Scariest of all, sometimes a lens of privilege is so deeply rooted, it becomes our own psychological corneas - feeding bias and prejudices.

Privilege can be genetically engineered by generations of family advantage until it literally becomes a part of our soul. Our children and grandchildren lose all perspective because they have lived a life of privilege. They never even consider that their entire life was structured through privilege based on their race, ethnicity, or an ancestor’s prosperity (however created).  

Actually seeing that we have a lens of privilege is much harder than looking through it. But if we take the time to understand it’s there - and that our lens of privilege creates distorted images (both of ourselves and others) - the payoff is infinitely worth the effort.

Repair of our distorted views begins with extending love without judgement.  Love never fails. Love necessarily produces humility. Love gives us the opportunity to see, to admit and to remove our own damaging lenses. And, with practice, giving others the benefit of the doubt will allow us to really see others as they are, not simply as we imagined.

About Dr. Michael Burcham

Michael is an executive coach, entrepreneur, investor, and strategist with 30 years of experience leading investor-backed, high-growth organizations.

“I built and sold a $40M company with Dr. Burcham as my mentor. This is the thing: if you EVER get the opportunity to learn from this man, from that moment forward, you’ll list him as one of the most influential people in your life, even if you live to be 90. And, you’ll know how lucky you were to have that opportunity and you’ll immediately say YES to any chance to be in his presence again—his wisdom is that impactful.”

Sherry Stewart Deutschmann

Former CEO, Letter Logic

“If you are looking for a trusted mentor and coach for yourself or your leadership team, I highly recommend Michael Burcham. He has worked with me as my executive coach for well over a decade now. Our conversations and his feedback have helped me sharpen my critical thinking skills. He’s a trusted advisor that I can confidentially speak with about any issue—and I know I’ll get valued feedback. I highly recommend him.”

Ryan McGrath

CEO, Asset Living

“Dr. Burcham’s depth and breadth of experience makes even the most ADD entrepreneurial leader sit up and take notes! His coaching skills bring out the ‘best you’ possible. He selflessly shares the good, the bad, and the ugly—leaving you with an authentic and moving experience sure to spur action and professional growth!”

Julie Lenzer

Director, U.S. Department of Commerce


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