Pah, ‘normal’ is so last week!

The definition of ‘normal’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is – Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected:

In the Cambridge English Dictionary it’s – Ordinary or usual; the same as would be expected:

So what are we really saying here; ‘samey’ perhaps!

And come on, there really is no such thing as normal! We are all have human, and everyone has human issues and challenges…..

And I don’t know if you agree (perhaps you will comment later) but don’t we get taught the importance of being different at various stages in our lives? In fact aren’t we encouraged to be different from a young age?

For example, when I started my career in sales I was exposed to the phrase ‘unique selling proposition’ (USP). The Wikipedia definition of USP is – A factor that a business has that makes it different and or better than others out there:

Another example would be the advice we give to people writing or updating their CV! You know nougats of insight like; what makes you stand out from the rest, what difference do you bring to the party, how do you do things differently to achieve better outcomes?

For all the X Factor fans out there, the judges, and money makers behind the scenes, are looking for the next big thing or things, different or better than what’s already out there.

Finally, in sports, there is a continued drive to improve performance and outcomes by doing things differently! Different fitness and eating regimes, different innovations in equipment, different mental approaches!

I’m sorry, but surely this shows that being different is critical, and difference, is the difference between achieving improved outcomes, or the same old same old, the usual, the ‘to be expected’!

I was on the panel session at the brilliant @RoffeyPark Institute’s 70th anniversary forum on wellbeing event last week, chaired by the exceptional @SimonFanshawe OBE, and I spoke openly about achieving as a consequence of my mental difference. As the discussion progressed I talked about businesses needing to focus on skills and capability alone, and that there is no need for labelling based on difference if viewed through the right lens!

Companies have business plans designed to achieve their purpose and satisfy their stakeholders. HR then has the people plan to achieve the people element of the business plan. Finally, resourcing has the resourcing plan, to support the achievement of the people plan.

This resourcing plan and the people plan invariably hold the blueprint of the skills and capabilities needed throughout the end to end workforce to achieve the business plan. It will not and should not go into any granularity about what that workforce should look and sound like, nor include anything personal.

So breaking it down to this level of simplicity, businesses should easily be able to articulate what skills and capabilities are needed and then do the harder bit which is to go out and get these. Race, gender, sexuality, age, health etc. just don’t come into it.

Right, we need a skill and/or capability! Do you possess it to the level we need? Yes, then you make the shortlist. Simple simple stuff.

And going back to my opening, surely the people you ideally want to acquire these skills and capabilities from are predominantly those that can provide it differently and better than others, e.g. leveraging their difference!

I think I might be part of the problem in due course by championing a diversity label, namely mental health, or hidden disability. I don’t think it will be too long, at least I hope it won’t be too long, until I simply talk about having a human difference, instead of a mental one.

My mental; oops sorry, human difference has helped me bring innovation and value to all of my previous employers, and more recently clients, who have all been delighted. I’m therefore happy that I’m not normal because it’s so last week and my difference is my competitive advantage, my USP.

What’s yours?

Colin Minto

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