I’m endlessly fascinated by how minority groups absorb majority standards as a measure of value, even when those standards press the minority to pervert its native expression and don’t elicit the best of what the minority group could bring to the common table.
I was heading to a work dinner with my favorite person yesterday when we wound up talking about a scenario in which I held a contrarian view.
“You’re not a very good sheep,” she concluded.
“I’m a very, very good goat,” I said.
Know Who You, What You Offer, and How You Thrive
If I’m in an environment that values the traits of sheep and devalues the traits of others, I simply won’t thrive, no matter how much effort I put in and how much I mimic or play-act to approximate environmental expectations. As Paul Batalden once said, every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. If I’m not thriving, then because I don’t skimp on effort, I need to ensure that my context supports the outcomes I want to produce. And I need to change it if it doesn’t.
Designing for my highest potential means recognizing that if I am not the kind of creature that the usual standards were made for, then I need to develop new standards—and this doesn’t make the usual standards bad, it only makes them incomplete.
There’s a lot of power in having the vision and ability to “design anew” with standards that take more of reality into account, lots of potential in creating new, sustainable worlds of experiment and experience within and beyond the systems that operate around us now.
What are some of the ways you’ve leveraged that power in your life? I’d love to hear your story.