We judge books by their titles, the author, and maybe the brief overview. We judge them because, based on that information alone, we choose whether or not we are going to read the book. We don’t write a review based on that limited information, but we absolutely judge by it.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” seems like sage advice but how else will you know if it’s worth reading? So, we judge because we need a way to gauge the contents. But here is the flaw in the process: it is not that we judge prematurely, but that people have put the wrong dust cover on their book.
When you select a book by its cover and settle down to read only to discover the romance novel is really a slasher story, or the exciting mystery is really a biography, disappointment sets in. We learn that it’s normal for the contents and the cover to not match. After enough disappointments, we learn not to trust the covers at all. We also learn that if we also simply change our cover we can fool the world—as long as we don’t let anyone in to read the pages.
People are always trying to change how the world sees them. It’s human nature to tie our identity into perception. The problem is that behavior modification (how we are taught to change perception by self-help gurus, business experts, and social media influencers) is merely changing the dust cover of a book.
It is not nearly as often that someone is willing to do the hard work and change the actual content of the book. Think about it…changing the content is hard. It means carefully and precisely removing the pages you don’t want and replacing them with the pages you do. It requires the help of an expert Craftsman—it is not some thing any of us have the skill to do ourselves.
It means letting the Expert cut away what is familiar. It means being willing to let go of what you think you know in order to learn what is true. It requires surrendering pride of ownership—removing your name from the cover, the title page, and the biographical description. Only a humble heart will ever be able to surrender all of this.
You can change a book cover as many times as you want, but if the content doesn’t change it really makes no difference. You are not deceiving the world; they will read you. You are only deceiving yourself.