Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

Valuing Difference…Here’s to the Crazy Ones

This post was originally published a few days after the death of Steve Jobs.  It made me think about how we spend so much of our time trying to fit in when really, we could be making better use of it exploring ways to value our differences.

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In the wake of his untimely death, I’ve been reading a little about Steve Jobs.  From all accounts, he was a genius; something of a rebel; a free soul and a person who didn’t only think outside the box (oh how I’m beginning to loathe that expression) but simply chose not to acknowledge the existence of a box in the first place.

We revere him now because, as Steven Spielberg aptly observes, “Steve Jobs was the greatest inventor since Thomas Edison.  He put the World at our fingertips”

That’s some legacy.

All this has set me to wondering about our general approach to people who are decidedly different from the rest of us.  As kids, we shun, tease and bully them.  As teenagers, we use labels that are less than flattering to separate ourselves from them because they are “uncool”.    And, as adults in the workplace we do our best to compel those who are different to conform to generally accepted, often unwritten, codes of behaviour.

Occasionally, a brave and determined soul will break through all that nonsense and create something truly wonderful. It’s usually something the rest of us can only dream about. That’s when being different finally becomes something to celebrate and honour.

There’s a leadership lesson in here somewhere.  It’s about allowing difference to enhance the texture of organizational life.  The truth is, we are each different from the other.  By perpetuating organizational cultures that expect us all to be the same, we are limiting our potential to uncover and encourage the kind of activity that leads us to great invention and accomplishment.

While it’s true that not everyone considered different is going to be a genius, those who look through an uncommon lens have something to teach us.  We need to make room for that.

One of my favourite books about difference is  A Peacock in the Land of Penguinswritten by B.J. Gallagher Hateley and Warren H. Schmidt.   This little book clearly demonstrates our struggle between accepting differences and pushing against having to do anything different.  More about this book here.

The bottom line is this.  Leadership is about a lot of things.  Among them is having the courage and vision to embrace the ideas and contribution of those whose experience and perspectives challenge us.  Doing so is important to our present and most certainly to our future.

So, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”

What do you think?

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4 Comments

Filed under building awareness, diversity, Leadership, Leadership Development, Uncategorized

Valuing Differences…Here’s to the Crazy Ones

In the wake of his untimely death, I’ve been reading a little about Steve Jobs.  From all accounts, he was a genius; something of a rebel; a free soul and a person who didn’t only think outside the box (oh how I’m beginning to loathe that expression) but simply chose not to acknowledge the existence of a box in the first place.

We revere him now because, as Steven Spielberg aptly observes, “Steve Jobs was the greatest inventor since Thomas Edison.  He put the World at our fingertips”

That’s some legacy.

All this has set me to wondering about our general approach to people who are decidedly different from the rest of us.  As kids, we shun, tease and bully them.  As teenagers, we use labels that are less than flattering to separate ourselves from them because they are “uncool”.    And, as adults in the workplace we do our best to compel those who are different to conform to generally accepted, often unwritten, codes of behaviour.

Occasionally, a brave and determined soul will break through all that nonsense and create something truly wonderful. It’s usually something the rest of us can only dream about. That’s when being different finally becomes something to celebrate and honour.

There’s a leadership lesson in here somewhere.  It’s about allowing difference to enhance the texture of organizational life.  The truth is, we are each different from the other.  By perpetuating organizational cultures that expect us all to be the same, we are limiting our potential to uncover and encourage the kind of activity that leads us to great invention and accomplishment.

While it’s true that not everyone considered different is going to be a genius, those who look through an uncommon lens have something to teach us.  We need to make room for that.

One of my favourite books about difference is  A Peacock in the Land of Penguinswritten by B.J. Gallagher Hateley and Warren H. Schmidt.   This little book clearly demonstrates our struggle between accepting differences and pushing against having to do anything different.  There is more about this book here.

The bottom line is this.  Leadership is about a lot of things.  Among them is having the courage and vision to embrace the ideas and contribution of those whose experience and perspectives challenge us.  Doing so is important to our present and most certainly to our future.

So, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”

What do you think?

8 Comments

Filed under building awareness, diversity, Leadership, Leadership Vision, Organizational Effectiveness

In Praise of Peacocks, Nerds, Dorks & Dweebs

Some time ago, I read a book called A Peacock in the land of Penguins.  The book was written by B.J. Gallagher Hateley and Warren H. Schmidt and it tells the story of an organization of Penguins who seek to differentiate themselves from the competition by hiring birds of a different feather.

As the story goes, one such bird was Perry the Peacock.  At first, the relationship between him and the penguins was a good one. The Penguins were delighted with the idea that Perry would bring a refreshing new perspective to their operation and Perry, being an ambitious sort, was equally delighted to be chosen.  But then, the tide changed.  Some of the penguins complained that Perry was too loud and showy.  They liked his work but were uncomfortable being around him.  He didn’t fit in.  And so, they took him aside and suggested to him that it might be better if he wore a penguin suit and moderated his behaviour.  There is more on this story here but you can well imagine that the battle between “let’s try something new” and “this is the way we do things around here” commenced soon after.

Unfortunately, this story is not an unfamiliar one to people who look at the world through a different lens.  As children, they are the ones who are less likely to be included and more likely to be bullied, ignored or ridiculed.  And, when they grow to adulthood, they are often expected to conform to a set of standards that makes no sense to them at all.

The good news is that many of these folks manage to extract themselves from what might have otherwise been mind-numbing existences and to fly to dizzying heights of success simply by insisting on being themselves.  And, if they hadn’t we would perhaps not have had the benefit of the genius of Einstein; the vision and technical capabilities of Bill Gates; the imagination and creativity of Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg; or even the brilliance of Michelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci.

These people, and many others, found ways to express their uniqueness, no doubt in the face of opposition from those who mistrusted or even feared the changes they were destined to bring to the world.

So what can leaders learn from this?  Well, I can think of three things at the moment and here they are:

  • You will waste your time if you try to fit a peacock into a penguin suit.

If you hire people who bring new, fresh, talent and ideas to your workplace and then go about trying to make them conform to the existing organizational culture, you will not only waste your time and theirs but you will also miss a golden opportunity to add value and uniqueness to your business.  People who may be considered eccentric or even socially inept could be the very treasures you need to take your business into the future.  And, if they are not the golden nuggets you expect, then at the very least they will add an interesting dimension to what might otherwise be a pretty flat landscape.

  • Focus on what is present, not on what is missing

As humans I think we are wired to look first at what we don’t have, and then consider what’s left if we have time. Simply put, if we truly value diversity and what it brings to the workplace we will first focus on what people bring to the organization before we look at what they don’t bring, and then decide how truly important the missing bits are.

  • If you feel uncomfortable working around people who view things differently or behave differently from you, there is likely an opportunity lurking to learn something.  Suck it up and start asking questions

Feeling uncomfortable is sometimes a trigger that needs to be pulled to create deeper understanding between and among people.  Asking questions (respectfully of course) is a good way to learn about how other people think and what they want.  It’s also a good way to build relationships and ease our own disquieting feelings too.

Here is a link to an article from The Pipeline Style on Tap entitled “From Outcast to Awesome, 17 Famous Nerds Who Paved the Way”

15 Comments

Filed under Change Management, diversity, Leading Change, Uncategorized