The Principle of Individuality Continued
People change according to the circumstances they find themselves in. The often used trait theory and existentialist thinking does a bad job of explaining human behavior because it ignores the second principle of individuality called the context principle. Trait-based tests assume that you’re either one thing or another thing, like an extrovert or an introvert. However, Yuichi Shoda, a top researcher in child development showed that people are really both, an extrovert and an introvert depending on the context that they find themselves in. And similar to Molenaar, people also accused Shoda of promoting anarchy.
The bottom line is that we rarely see the diversity of contexts in the lives of our acquaintances, so we make judgements about who they are based on limited information. Knowing contextual if-then signatures (if this happens, then she does that) helps us make better decisions about people. Asking “Why” people are behaving that way in that context helps parents, teachers, counselors and managers help their people succeed and builds positive relationships. This strategy can also be applied to oneself and can produce some great results.
People change according to the circumstances that they find themselves in. Thus, we all end up walking the road less traveled. However, Averagarianism thinking dubes us into believing that not only are there ‘normal’ brains, bodies and personalities, but there are also ‘normal’ pathways that lead us to the one right way to learn and obtain our goals. We can thank Fredrick Taylor and Edward Thorndike who promoted a standard career track within hierarchical organizations, which then trickled down to education, for this faulty kind of thinking about pathways to success.
This faulty kind of thinking is very limiting. These temporal norms originally designed to maximize factory efficiency has unfortunately turned into invisible pace-setters for all aspects of our personal and professional lives. We all have come to believe that we’re either on the right track for success or not.
The cold hard fact that there really isn’t a single normal pathway for any type of human development, biological, mental, moral, or professional forms the basis for the third principle of individuality called the pathway principle. This principle makes two important affirmations. First, for all aspects of life, there are many equally valid ways to reach the same outcome. And two, the particular pathway that is optimal for you depends on your own individuality.
According to psychologist Kurt Fischer there are no fixed ladders of development, but only webs of development where each new step opens up a whole new set of possibilities according to our own individuality. You see, we assume that way to success is to follow a well-blazed trail. But the fact is that we are making our own trail. Thus, we need to spend some time understanding our own jaggedness and if-then signatures because that’s the only way to judge if the path we are on is the path that fits our individuality. There will always be more than one pathway available to us, and the odds are that the best one for us is the one that is less traveled.
So I must ask now, are we judging others too quickly, and have we been climbing a ladder to success or a web to success?
Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.