Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~100 ·

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YOU don't get to define 'Normal'. It's killing your success.

YOU don't get to define 'Normal'. It's killing your success.

I'm a nice guy.  Or at least I've been told.

I do have things that make me unique.

I'm musical.  I shoot things (with a camera). I refuse to act my age (just because there is a 'senior discount' for someone over 55 doesn't mean you have to take it). 

But even with the uniqueness, I still feel that I share many things in common with my fellow citizens.

I am considered average in a number of areas - my height, my shoe size, my hobbies, the size of my family (between 2 and 4 children), my living in the 'burbs', my Canadian-ness (sorry), and my position on the socio-economic scale in our part of the world.

There are quite a few people who share things in common with me.

But that's the problem.

Because I share so many traits with others, it is easy to assume that EVERYONE ELSE should also follow my lead in many other areas.

In a perfect world, everyone would love acoustic folk/roots and 70's rock music, a good single malt Scotch, an occasional cigar (to go with the Scotch), family, outdoors, and anything barbequed.  Kale and Tofu would become illegal substances, and Baskin Robbins would have to change their branding since the only flavour of ice cream needed is vanilla (YES, vanilla IS a flavour).

In terms of technology (and this is where I am sure to cross some lines), everyone would be using Windows based computers, Android phones, and only need Solitaire and Sudoku in the Games section of the app store.

But it's not a perfect world, and everything I just mentioned are just preferences.

My preferences.

Here's where 'false consensus' kicks in... it is easy for me to assume that everyone else shares the same likes, dislikes, beliefs, values, and preferences that I do (or at least they SHOULD).

'False Consensus' is defined (in Wikipedia) as "an attributional type of cognitive bias whereby people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others (i.e., that others also think the same way that they do)."

In everyday life, this may cause frustration with others, since they aren't 'following your lead'.

But that's not the point of the blog today.

Side note: If you follow my writings, you will know that I quite often take a while to get to the point.  For those of you who are new to my writing style, we are about to get to the meat of the issue.

As IT folk, we design, build and implement systems that are based on OUR preferences, not our users, and we wonder why so much technology sits unused. (I am sure John Vaughan has much to say about this.)

We implement Social Media strategies for our organizations that are based on our experience and preferences.  If you are over 30, you might want to talk to some Millennials to see how they use Social Media. It's probably different than you do.

We build 'personal brands', online profiles, and marketing campaigns based on what we would like to see, not necessarily what employers and clients are looking for.

We implement strategic plans that are based on our view and understanding of our experiences in our world, not on the actual technology trends that WILL impact us and disrupt our world (think AI, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, Machine Learning, blockchain, to name a few).

The point is...  YOU can't define what 'normal' is solely based on your own experience and preferences.

If you want to lead, then you need to get out of the mindset that you know what 'normal' is, and start doing some research.

You can't assume that everyone is a version of you.

Your clients and customers are a hodgepodge of uniqueness.  

In closing, I'll leave you with a couple of maxims that helped me understand this concept.

The first:

While we can generalize about people, we have to understand that all generalizations are dangerous. Including this one.

And secondly:

If we were all the same, we would all drive black Fords (or metallic grey Jeep Cherokee TrailHawks if we were doing things right).

______________________________________________________________________________

Picture: Used under Creative Commons License

About the Author:

b1743e3e.jpgI’m the Chief Information Officer for Sheridan College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology. I'm also a beBee Brand Ambassador.

I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.

In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee (www.bebee.com/@kevin-pashuk) , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at TurningTechInvisible.com.

I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream at www.flickr.com/photos/kwpashuk 



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Comments

Mark Blevins

2 years ago #82

It's a good article but I don't understand why someone would worry so much about being called a leader

Louise Smith

3 years ago #81

#109
Yes it happens to me too.

Louise Smith

3 years ago #80

He'll be back !

Louise Smith

3 years ago #79

#106
Yes you mentioned it to me a while ago I hope your new job is going "gangbusters" Just thought I'd try to re-establish "contact" Houston Looking forward to your new input from the honey pot on your boat

Kevin Pashuk

3 years ago #78

#99
Thanks Louise. The spirit is willing, but my calendar is weak... I recently changed jobs and am spending a significant amount of time with that. Rest assured I'm gathering a boatload of material for future posts.

Louise Smith

3 years ago #77

We miss you Kevin Pashuk !!!!!!

Debasish Majumder

3 years ago #76

excellent buzz @Kevin Pushuk! enjoyed read and shared. thank you for the buzz sir.

This buzz well worth a second look. :)

Louise Smith

3 years ago #74

We miss you Kevin Pashuk !!!!!!

Kevin Pashuk

3 years ago #73

#96
Thanks Claire. And thanks for sharing it on Twitter.

Claire L Cardwell

3 years ago #72

Kevin Pashuk - don't know how I missed this one the first time around! We should celebrate our differences (and preferences - whilst I love real vanilla ice cream - chocolate can't be beat!), and accept other people for who they are...

Lyon Brave

3 years ago #71

it is okay to be normal

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #70

#90
That's because they are Robertson, (a good Canadian invention) not a weak Phillips with a stripped head.... :)

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #69

#89
Hardly, Kev, you are one of the few people I know whose screws all seem to be tight. 😀

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #68

#87
You are a wise fellow Phil. In my case it's too soon old, too late smart.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #67

#86
Thanks Bill.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #66

Kevin Pashuk, over many years, I've learned that one of the biggest mistakes a marketer can make is to judge the preferences of the market by one's own. In my core business, I've often been asked, "What do you think of that boa?" My answer is, "Well personally ____, but remember my tastes and proclivities are not necessarily typical of the market."

Great buzz

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #64

#84
While I've been called worse, I'm not sure I appreciate being called a snowflake Jim...

Jim Murray

4 years ago #63

So then...we're all just like snowflakes?

Louise Smith

4 years ago #62

#81
Perhaps they could. We like Canadians ! But I'm sorry I don't have any contacts. Also there must be a lot of problems ! They started with unachievable promises from Pollies !

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #61

#76
I'm sure that thought quickly went up in smoke Gerald.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #60

#74
Thanks Louise... I figure I will never run out of opportunity to bring change into the IT world. Perhaps the Aussie government want to bring me in as a consultant?

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #59

#72
Thanks Louise... now I am going to have to go and buy some real bean vanilla ice cream.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #58

#66
I was wondering why I felt prompted to insert that qualifying statement Louise... now I know.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #57

#61
Thanks Pam... "A post that triggers thought is a good post!" Hope I triggered a few for you.

Louise Smith

4 years ago #56

#75
ok thanks. Wow that's great !

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #55

#69
It is not uncommon, but not necessarily the chosen career path. My son works in the film industry.

Louise Smith

4 years ago #54

Kevin Pashuk " I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department." I like this statement in the "About the Author " section. In Australia, like Canada, there are large tracts of sparsely inhabited land. From an education and mental/health point of view, it is difficult to provide services to people in these places (and often impossible). A teacher in a metropolitan or regional school, is more economical that one using an online teaching program. Also the technology is expensive and often below par. I live 8 km from Brisbane QLD CBD and I don't have NBN connected so how can a person who lives 800 or 1000's km away hope it will work well for them. This is starting to come out in the media here now. We trust the Government to make the best choice for the people but these days often they don't and worse is they don't tell us until they are forced to and it's too late.

Louise Smith

4 years ago #53

#32
Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee See my comment #19. Very nicely summarised "it represents true personal growth" but some people never get to it and have difficult lives because of this.

Louise Smith

4 years ago #52

#24
esp if it is made with real vanilla bean !

Louise Smith

4 years ago #51

#21
Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr it has it's basis in anthropology (Biological and Cultural mainly) In early societies, it was about survival. Everyone in the group clan or tribe, had to be unified and follow the same type of "normality" e.g. if a stranger came along initially they were perceived as a threat because they were different. You will know many stories about the stranger who lets their own tribe in to the new tribe's village take over or kill everyone to gain wealth and territory. It still happens today.

Louise Smith

4 years ago #50

#19
I know someone in their early 60's who has been going blind for the last 20 years and now is almost completely blind. She is learning new technology/software like SIRI but perhaps more versatile so she will be able to function and keep up with what is going on in the world. She will not have to rely on Braille which she doesn't know. It's really time consuming for her to learn but the benefits are worth it.

Louise Smith

4 years ago #49

#17
Hi Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier Do a lot of people who work in IT have forms of Autism? or other disabilities? regards Louise

Louise Smith

4 years ago #48

#16
Yes Kevin Pashuk that is the origin of negative discrimination of all kinds.

Louise Smith

4 years ago #47

#13
" Is this abnormal thinking?" It depends, esp if there is a mental health condition ! And even then it's normal for the person with the condition ! But this is something that I come across with my clients very often esp with family relationships and processes. A person who grows up in conflict with constant anger, shouting, fighting, sulking, no apologies and no other role models thinks that every family operates that way and accepts that as "normal". It is a great revelation to people to find out that it is not true, usu as they get older and have different experiences. Then they have to reevaluate who they are and can develop positive self esteem. It is often very difficult to shake off these childhood patterns and values. And it takes a while of consistent therapy.

Louise Smith

4 years ago #46

Kevin Pashuk "Side note: If you follow my writings, you will know that I quite often take a while to get to the point. For those of you who are new to my writing style, we are about to get to the meat of the issue." Superb placement in the blog at exactly that second I was thinking "What is this really about ? Where is it going ?" !!!

Louise Smith

4 years ago #45

#11
Trickster extrodinare !

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #44

#61
It will be here before you know it Pamela \ud83d\udc1d Williams! It's always good to be very honest about our likes/dislikes and differences. I think we've covered a lot of territory already. I forgot to tell you I'm very noisy at night and jam up the volume- JOKING. And, I will be walking with my camera, prob ending up 2-3 miles down on beach before I know it. Last time I did that in the Outer banks I was so far away from our rental the guys came looking for me b/c there was a tornado warning and I was oblivious to the weather (well sort of). As for group think- that would be the sheep or as some call them, 'sheeple,' LOL

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #43

#59
Is that why I'm always looking for discounts? I had a friend once ask me how I find jeans that are worth anything for under 75.00??? I don't think I've ever paid more than 40.00 and to me that is steep. I just need to tone it down with groceries now and I'm working on that one too. Love to cook so it can be challenging. For the record, my friend spent 100.00 plus for jeans, so I'm thinking she was at the other end of the spectrum.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #42

#59
Being married to a Scot for a long time, I do understand your penurious nature Ken. She is a Master at getting discounts that far exceed the paltry reduction they give seniors.

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #41

#45
I'll take discounts wherever I can find them (or negotiate them), Kev. After all, I was born in Scotland and, therefore, not only do I have a reputation to keep up, but why deny a few hundred moths a home by opening up my sporran unnecessarily? 🤗

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #40

#55
Does the ADV still sound like "ringa-ding ding ding ding" like my single cylinder Enduro did?

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #39

#53
Thanks Lisa. Our differences are what creates distinctiveness. Our commonalities are what creates community. In order to be successful in IT, product planning, and life, one must recognize that there is distinctiveness.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #38

#52
Thanks Phil. We do know there are 10 kinds of people in the world... Those who understand binary, and those who do not.

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #37

#49
I'll take that as a compliment, Don. 😄

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #36

I love this buzz Kevin Pashuk. We are all unique and we all have our drawbacks.. well I know I have my own set of drawbacks (and probably some I'm not aware of). By the way, I just got up to put a pancake in the microwave, I tend to read, begin to type and then get distracted before I finish what I'm doing. I do the same when I write something, some people would find that odd, maybe? You wrote: "In a perfect world, everyone would love acoustic folk/roots and 70's rock music, a good single malt Scotch, an occasional cigar (to go with the Scotch), family, outdoors, and anything barbequed. Kale and Tofu would become illegal substances, and Baskin Robbins would have to change their branding since the only flavour of ice cream needed is vanilla (YES, vanilla IS a flavour)." Love 70's rock, hate any type of scotch, tried a puff on a cigar once... ewe, kale is ok, tofu can rock. Great descriptive examples you left. Every friend I have is very different from me but I love it because we have a lot to share and I learn from them.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #35

#50
Kevin Pashuk, in your native languagek, my answer is: 1 1 . Cheers!

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #34

#48
Not sure what happened to your comment Shelley, but I'm glad you made it.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #33

#47
Thanks Phil. I guess if I am a "Prairie Philosopher" then it would be ripples in the amber waves of grain...

don kerr

4 years ago #32

#43
Ken Boddie I don't think being depicted as 'normal' is ever gonna be a problem for you friend!

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #31

My favorite Prairie Philosopher strikes again with some extraordinary insight into what is or is not ordinary or "normal". Often the least normal and most extraordinary people move across the waters of social media spreading small ripples of wisdom, whereas those who are the most ordinary "normal" do their best to create waves of attention. Or something like that.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #30

#43
Thanks for the comment Ken, and don't worry. "Normal' is never a handle I would ascribe to you... (that's a compliment BTW)... You do point out the corollary to my post (which I haven't written yet)... the disabling sense that one's value, worth, and acceptance is based upon what other people think of you, and giving up your uniqueness in order to fit in... (but that's a post longer than a comment.) You also point out that as we put a few more birthdays behind us, we care less about what others think about us (which explains why that certain neighbour has no compunction about mowing the lawn in his boxers). I may have a few birthdays under the belt, but still refuse to take the senior's discount on a matter of principle.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #29

#37
Thanks Chas. While I won't invite you over when the cigars come out... (you can go chat with my wife who positions herself well upwind of the offending burnt offering), you are right that we probably have lots in common. Once the cigar is extinguished we can get together and listen to some classic rock. We'll invite Aaron \ud83d\udc1d Skogen over too. I partly agree with you on the Chrysler eval... They weren't the most reliable of beasts for the last few years. I went back to Jeep after Fiat got involved. It's a whole different car company. As far as the classic AMC version. I grew up with those. There aren't many of them left since the body couldn't handle the winter road salt in the part of Canada where I live.

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #28

Thanks, Kev, for waking me up to the realisation that I haven't got a clue what 'normal' means, and what's more, I have no wish to be seen, accepted, or thought of as 'normal'. As Groucho Marks reportedly said, "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member". 🤣 At my age I just don't need the aggravation of trying to conform to what others think should be considered as 'normal', and I try and avoid listening to what people say about me, unless they think I'm awesome, in which case, of course, they're totally correct!

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #27

#36
But we do share motorcycles in common Brian. Although the days of the eduro or crotch rocket are long gone for me.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #26

#35
Thanks for the kind words Sara. I do hope I'm not sending the message that there is no such thing as normal, but that we (as individuals) don't get to define what 'normal' is based on our personalities and preferences. There is great diversity and individuality in the world. The things we share in common create community, and the areas of distinctiveness are opportunities to learn from each other. Unfortunately, most people focus on the distinctiveness, and see it as an opportunity to segregate, not learn. And for the record... there is such a thing as normal. Actually, it's a place. https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Normal,+Illinois,+USA/@40.5269297,-89.0221494,13z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x880b711e8ea0817b:0xcc453bef6eaaddc0!8m2!3d40.5142026!4d-88.9906312

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #25

#34
Thanks Numo. IT is usually categorized (and managed) as an overhead when those who lead IT do not demonstrate a strategic value for the services. It is unfortunately too common.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #24

#33
Thanks Lyon!

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #23

#32
Thanks Joyce.

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #22

Thank you Kevin Pashuk for writing another insightful, intelligent, humourous (note the Canadian-ness spelling), and thought provoking post. But that's just normal for you. (Sorry couldn't resist.) I say thought provoking because I always enjoy reading the discussion taking place around your post, and then it all provokes me to think. First, I think that your families and my family must be related because there isn't any one I would call normal in my "whole shebang" either. And this leads me to echo a lot of what is being asked, "who can say what is normal"? Well, let me give it a try. It is normal to have an individual way of expressing yourself. It is normal to feel different. It is normal to bond with like-minded people, AS WELL AS, not like-minded people. For me, things start moving in the wrong direction when intolerance sets in; this goes for any aspect of human identity. And, yes, ignorance is definitely a strong factor when it comes to intolerance. From my perspective, it is normal to have boundaries that clarify and protect. So as soon as you say, "you can be yourself as long as you don't hurt me", you are actually imposing your beliefs on someone else. But, that's OK. Some beliefs, as in "common sense" beliefs, have to exist in order to maintain the integrity of the group and/or community in which we live, and depend on, to be that unique individual.

Lyon Brave

4 years ago #21

Amazing

"Here's where 'false consensus' kicks in... it is easy for me to assume that everyone else shares the same likes, dislikes, beliefs, values, and preferences that I do (or at least they SHOULD). " A very common misperception. When someone comes to this realization, I believe it represents true personal growth. I believe (or I hope we do) we all go through a stage where we acknowledge others are entitled to their beliefs. I've only met a few people where this is not true.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #19

#30
I believe normal is relative... Except when it comes to my wife's family... Or mine for that matter. Not a normal one in the whole shebang. Laughing at all this serious sillyness doesn't make you normal or abnormal Charlene, but does define you as one with a healthy sense of humour.

Charlene Norman

4 years ago #18

The buzz was great, the comments fantastic! My sides are hurting. Does that mean I am normal? I sure hope so!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #17

#24
Here, here! Away with mediocrity! #26, yeah maybe be careful...

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #16

#23
Ummm... can I open this at work? Will the alarm sirens go off? 😵

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #15

#22
I'd love to take you up on that offer Aaron. A good jam session covers a multitude of sins of the technological choice variety.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #14

#21
I am truly amazed at how hard I have to justify that VANILLA IS A FLAVOUR!!!!!. It's not a 'lack of adventure'... I have tried the others and found them wanting. A good vanilla ice cream is elegant in its simplicity... ... now that THAT is off my chest... Thanks Don. When it comes to people, 'normal' isn't something to aspire to. It's beige, it's dull, it doesn't change the world. I wouldn't mind the word being stripped from the dictionary where it pertains to humans.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #13

#19
This is going to seem super weird, but check this out. http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/787867/Sex-doll-robot-Harmony-2-0-RealDoll

don kerr

4 years ago #12

Kevin Pashuk A good, thought-provoking piece from my favourite raging introvert. It raises the question of why there is a quest for normality. Normal, to my mind, is potentially pedestrian, safe, and perhaps boring. If we were all to aspire to normalcy wouldn't the predominant colour of our world be gray and the only flavour on offer vanilla (no offence to your lack of adventure with regard to ice cream)? Normalcy is where innovation and creativity go to die and yet so many strive to achieve it. A puzzlement my friend.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #11

#18
Aaron! Firefox? REALLY!!?? ... and I thought we were friends? Seriously though, I think you get the point. We are individuals. Normal is indeed a judgement call.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #10

#17
I'm sorry Renée. The furthest I veer away from vanilla, is to order French Vanilla. And it doesn't have to be Baskin Robbins... we have a machine to make it at home (best), or I usually go with a premium brand in the supermarket. As for technology, one of the more significant trends with AI and machine learning, is that technology is far better to adapt itself to the individual using it. Think about how Siri, Cortana and OK Google get better with use. If only we humans could adapt as well instead of trying to judge behaviour as 'normal' or 'abnormal'.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #9

As my son who lives with autism says, "Normal is just a word." Interestingly, the latest trends in technology being used by so called normal people are inspired by and geared toward helping those with disabilities. The tech world seems to have a greater grasp of the importance of not falling into the trap of false consensus. By the way, while vanilla ice cream is good (because there is no such thing as bad ice cream), I would strongly urge you to break free of your preference for Baskin Robbins vanilla and try the pumpkin pie cheesecake. OMG!

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #8

#15
Thanks Preston. While we can categorize groups of people by traits, you are right (IMO) that we are all individuals. The problem comes when we take our own unique blend of personality, passions, abilities and experiences and decide that that is 'right', inferring everything else is 'wrong'. I'm not suggesting that there is no 'wrong', but that the assessment of it shouldn't come from our own experiences.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #7

#13
Thanks for sharing David. I agree, that the concept of 'normal' is abused. The most accurate way to measure 'normal' is to have a statistical sample size of n=1.

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #6

Good points here, Kevin, and nice buzz! I'm wondering if you ever get tired of hearing the buzzword term "new normal." It appears to be one of those abused terms in the news media to describe everything these days. The funny thing is that reporters don't always use facts or data to substantiate the use of this term as a legitimate trend. So what's normal? I think the answer to that question lies in the perception and perspective of the individual. What's "normal" for one person likely isn't normal for all people. Thus, my advice is that if it feels normal TO you then it's normal FOR you. Is this abnormal thinking? Thanks again for buzzing blog post, Kevin!

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #5

#10
I KNEW that would be a hot button statement Don... Don't tell anyone, but I do have an iMac on my desk. (Along with 2 Windows Pen based tablet computers).

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #4

#6
#7 Thanks Heenay for the comment and sharing!

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #3

#3
I have no reply for your reply Pascal.

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #2

#1
Thanks John. When I think of UX/UI, I link your name to it. A vital, but seemingly lacking component of any project.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #1

I would not ''normally comment'' on this topic but since you are special I making an exception to the norm :-)

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