Posts Tagged ‘picking people like ourselves’

What’s In That Special Sauce?

December 9, 2014

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, when I had a career and was lucratively employed, I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at resumes. I know a lot about how people present themselves on paper, in person, and in the eyes of others. Part of my job was to glean from such data points the “special sauce” that might make this individual a good fit for this opportunity. In every case, there was nobody who satisfied the ideal profile and several, wildly varying prospects who presented potential; but throughout the process, I would run into resistance from clients who refused to consider anyone who deviated from a pre-determined set of “acceptable” criteria, no matter how impressive their overall record.


Drawing from this experience, I believe that if you reflect on what you’ve observed over the course of your life, you may draw a conclusion similar to mine that, in general, most people unconsciously drift towards others like them. There are a whole host of reasons for this, of course, but (aside from the comfort of the familiar) the biggest motivation is that doing so reinforces the choices we made as good. We genuflect upon ourselves through them. “If they’re a smarty pants, then so am I! Yeah for ME!”


Oftentimes, we look for particular criteria as a short hand guarantee for a certain level of performance or prowess. Makes sense, right? But where people start getting lost is in the belief that there is only one acceptable path to success. They get nervous if they don’t see all the boxes checked off. I mean, how is it even possible for a square peg to accomplish the work required of a round hole, they titter, never once considering that there may just be a way. And, if you allow square pegs, what if a bunch of triangles and octagons start showing up saying they can do it, too? What happens to me, the appropriate-sized, perfectly smooth, beautiful, and well-rounded peg in such chaos?


Can you feel their fear?


Re-booting is not just about us changing and finding ways to alter our lives to better fit who we are today, but it’s also about expanding our horizons to consider, at least consider, that the foreign ways of others may be fine (or even better) in getting the job done. What happened to humility? Just because we haven’t thought of something, just because the path they’ve followed seems wacky, or their background seems, well, uh, inferior to ours doesn’t mean that it is. Time and time again, in both my personal and professional lives, I have seen Person A dismiss Person B because B didn’t behave or have the experience or perceive things the same way A did. A subsequently decides to feel insulted or compelled to derogate B simply because A cannot comprehend that things can work well any other way than how they’ve done it.


Do I hear any bells ringing? Any Amens? Has this happened to you? Were you ever ignored or diminished because you hadn’t checked off all the requisite boxes?


So, let’s turn this thing around: Have you done this to somebody else???


Adults are an insecure and lazy bunch, so we drift towards the familiar without even thinking about it. Many of us never consider the possibility that maybe X, Y, and Z aren’t necessary to accomplish XX, unless, of course, we’re the ones who don’t fit the mold—and then it’s easy to see how narrow minded the gate keepers are. What if your child wants to follow an unbeaten path? What if your in-laws have a very different approach to expressing affection than what you believe is respectful? What if someone wants to work for your organization but they lack the “right” diploma? What then? Is it so impossible to imagine they could excel?


A re-booter remembers that the “special sauce” may come from a recipe that we never imagined, using ingredients we’ve never knew existed. We’re not the only chefs in the kitchen…



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