I read The Observer’s article remembering George Michael today with great sadness – and not just because I liked him.
It also reminded me that – so often – it takes someone to die before we talk about how much we loved them and what was so special about them.
The Observer feature has Elton John saying “he was one of the kindest, most generous people that I ever met in my life” – I hope he got to say that to George, because everyone needs an ego boost every now and then.
My point? Today, think about someone you truly care about and make sure you tell them why they’re so special. None of us knows what could happen tomorrow.
Our cultural norms are generally something we don’t give a lot of thought to, but when they affect 50% of people’s everyday lives, without us realising, then it’s time to stop and reassess.
I’m currently reading Cordelia Fine’s excellent book Delusions of Gender and she talks eloquently about the loaded nature of the words ‘male’ and ‘female’.
Essentially, as soon as someone associates you with one or the other, you’re automatically stereotyped, regardless of your personality, qualities and achievements.
When we categorise someone as male or female, as we inevitably do, gender associations are automatically activated and we perceive them through the filter of cultural beliefs and norms. This is sexism gone underground – unconscious and unintended – and social psychologists and lawyers are becoming very interested in how this new, covert and unintended form of sexism disadvantages women in the workplace. There’s little doubt that this new form of subtle discrimination is important and does hold women back, especially, perhaps, mothers.
Food for thought.
I was reading the excellent Made To Stick by Chip & Dan Heath this week and came across the most brilliant analogy to explain why all organisations – or even projects – need a strategy.
“If you’re playing darts and your friend consistently aims too high, you can give useful feedback. But it’s the obvious location of the bullseye that makes your comment possible.
What if and your friend don’t agree on where it is? In that case, your communication will be unproductive and irritating for both of you – and if you were playing “business” rather than darts, the person with more power would win the discussion. A common strategic language allows everyone to contribute.”
I’ve worked on countless projects and in many organisations, where it wasn’t immediately obvious what the end goal was, nor the way we were going to measure it.
If you ever need to explain to anyone – even a boss – why a strategy is important, this is the way to do it.
CC photo via Flickr: John