How Meeting the Real “Rain Man” Reminded Me to Never Judge a Book by its Cover


Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting American savant, Kim Peek, and his father Fran, at our Rotary Club. I was expecting Kim to be similar to the character Dustin Hoffman portrayed in the movie “Rain Man” and which also starred Tom Cruise. Above we’re pictured holding screenwriter Barry Morrow’s Oscar statuette which Kim carried with him while doing appearances.

Rain Man Mitch Jackson Rotary

Shortly after meeting Kim, our club members learned that Kim was unable to do many of the things depicted in the movie. I just assumed that he could.

What Kim could do is quickly read a book scanning the left page with his left eye, and right page with his right eye, and accurately remember the what he had just read. In fact, his dad reported Kim could recall the contents of more than 12,000 books.

One fascinating fact I learned about Kim was that he did payroll in his head for a company with 120 employees. He also was able to scan through a phonebook from your home town (it would take him about an hour using both eyes as I described above) and if asked, he could tell you which page number your name and phone number was on. Often he could even recall the street address. Kim has since passed away, but you can learn more about this amazing man by visiting his Wikipedia page.

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to try several high profile cases to jury verdict. In each and every trial, the purported facts and evidence reported in the newspapers and online were substantially different than what was really going on inside the courtroom. People were making incorrect assumptions about a case based upon a headline or inaccurate reporting.

In a similar fashion, I believe the perception many of us have about people in the public eye, famous people, and influencers, both online and off, is premised upon inaccurate assumptions, facts, and conclusions. A chance encounter in a restaurant or awkward moment on TMZ often times really doesn’t show who someone is or what they stand for in business and life.

On the ranch I grew up on in Tucson, Arizona, we had many famous people and their families stay as guests. Without exception, every single person and celebrity were completely different in real life than what you would see on television, in the movies, or out on the athletic fields. They were your typical everyday human beings with good and bad characteristics and habits.

My Take-A-Way

Because of something that recently happened to me, I was reminded to always separate assumptions from facts. On important matters, do your due diligence before putting someone up on a pedestal or buying their expensive products or services. Spend the time and make the effort to learn the facts so you know exactly who you are dealing with and what you are buying.

While it’s OK to give somebody the benefit of the doubt, please be ready to deal with the consequences if you do. I give people the benefit of the doubt all the time. At the same time, I can do this because I’ve also created the mindset that if I’m wrong about someone, then I can live with the decision I’ve made because the other person is the problem, not me.

I think it’s important to remember that for the most part, it’s a good idea to never judge a book by its cover and always do your due diligence in business and in life. Not only will the clarity derived from your efforts help guide you to success, you’ll also be a better and wiser person for understanding the importance of not jumping to conclusions about people and things.

I don’t know about you, but for me and most other people, it’s a challenge to figure ourselves out much less others. So, in closing, I leave you with a quote from Deepak Chopra:

“We have to really educate ourselves in a way about who we are, what our real identity is.”

Maybe once we figure out who we are, we’ll be able to more accurately figure out and understand others.

Author: Mitch Jackson

I'm a California trial lawyer trying to fix the world one client, cause, and digital interaction at a time.

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