Your Negative Could Be My Positive, A Visit to the Freak Factory

In many cases what you see depends on your perspective on things or your blinders.

After reading Tyler Cowen go in details about how people considered as autistic do have strong skills in certain areas, my ears rang when I heard an official commenting on H1N1 vaccination put them in the mentally disabled column.

I hear echos of that in The Freak Factory: Making Employees Better by Helping Them Get Worse by David Rendall (Change This, November 11).


To show how "Instead of attacking people’s weaknesses, we should find the strength that is hidden inside their apparently negative characteristics" he takes himself as an example:

His issue:

"My friend, Lynn, once introduced me to an audience of mothers by explaining that I was a bad kid
that turned out okay. I was considered a bad kid because I had three basic problems.
➻ I couldn’t sit still
➻ I couldn’t be quiet
➻ I couldn’t do what I was told

My teachers, principals and parents accused me of being immature, undisciplined and rebellious.
They regularly reminded me that I needed to correct these problems in order to become a successful
adult. They tried to manage my behavior in the same ways that we try to manage people in the
workplace. They offered rewards, threatened punishment, offered advice and suggested plans for
improvement, all in an effort to fix my weaknesses. Unfortunately, or fortunately, they never succeeded."

His solution:

"But this bad kid turned out okay, not by fixing my weaknesses but by flaunting them. I didn’t
succeed in spite of my flaws, I succeeded because of them.

Since I couldn’t sit still, I started running ultra-marathons.
Since I couldn’t be quiet, I became a public speaker.
Since I couldn’t follow orders, I started my own business.

There is a clear lesson here for anyone that manages people. Instead of attacking people’s weaknesses, we should find the strength that is hidden inside their apparently negative characteristics."

I will let you explore the rest...

Restless in my chair for Monday Work Etiquette # 116

Previously: A Restaurant Buschel Full of Rules, Will it Lead to Indigestion

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