I couldn’t imagine we would be living out a cartoon when I saw the 2004 The Incredibles, a story about a family of super heroes. Even though they saved the world numerous times, people got upset at the damage they caused defeating the enemy. As a result, they outlawed super heroes. Sure, that makes sense, just like trying to blame gun manufacturers for any gun violence. Let’s punish the good guys.
Mr. Incredible and his family went into hiding and had to behave like everyone else. When his son Dash, who is wicked fast, wanted to run his best in a race, they told him he couldn’t. He needed to be “average,” and he would get a trophy for participating. Dash’s comment is profound and more relevant today than ever before: “When everyone is special, no one is.”
We have officially diminished real accomplishments in an attempt to make unsuccessful people feel good about themselves. Bravo. Well done. Your trophy awaits you for being mediocre! Seriously, I can’t believe my eyes when I see people doing a “virtual climb up Mt. Everest.” Are you kidding me? I don’t care if you put the actual miles in, it IS NOT the same! You don’t have the frigid cold to content with or the lack of oxygen. You certainly won’t have the powerful winds and the steep climb that only Mt. Everest offers. And unless you do all the miles at once, it doesn’t come close. Stop pretending and virtual signaling!
Now if you want to take on an audacious goal, go for it. That’s great, but your achievement shouldn’t be at the expense of minimizing someone’s REAL success—just like your rights shouldn’t be at the expense of mine.
We have to stop thinking and trying to be the same. We are not. We have never been equals, and we never will be…at least I hope not. Hear me out…
Some people do the extra work…the hard work. They put in long hours and make sacrifices. Others do not. Why, then, should they both be considered successful? It boils down to Communism, and we are on a very slippery slope, especially when “men” who aren’t good enough to compete in men’s sports join women’s sports to compete so they can feel good about themselves. Wow – no words. Talk about a huge step backwards for the women’s movement. The only people who win in Communism are the ones with the power: the government and politicians. Please remove the wool from your eyes and start seeing the truth before it is too late.
As employers, be very careful to not fall into the “everyone is the same” trap. Your team members who put the time in and continually contribute should receive raises, not those who didn’t show up or took long periods of time off. We must reward the exceptional as an incentive for others to grow and develop, otherwise we will be left with a mediocre staff expecting trophies simply because they showed up.
I hope there are people out there who understand that extraordinary isn’t for everyone, and that not everyone gets there. It’s the freedom to pursue it and try! We celebrate those who have gone before us and shown us it can be done, but we don’t diminish what they have done and lower the bar so we can pat ourselves on the back for doing nothing. “When everyone is special, no one is.”
Since we are all different, it makes sense to adapt our leadership in ways that works for others. Those leaders who understand this principle capture the best talent and increase their retention. My Leveraging Your Leadership Style! book is an excellent resource for green horns to veteran leaders alike.