Monday, April 4, 2011

There is No "One Size Fits All"

Have you ever been out shopping and seen something labeled "one size fits all." Take a hat for example:: I've been looking for a fun spring fedora, which is labeled "one size fits all." So I try it on, but much to my dismay, I am apparently not the "all" this item fits... my head is too big. (I have this problem with hats often.)
While this situation is slightly amusing, it is important. As leaders we all too often assume our followers fit in this "one size fits all" category. We think, "well it worked last week with so and so... I'm going to use that with my whole team." But a few weeks later, you still feel defeated and wonder why. Let me tell you why: it's because no human is like the one they sit next to in an office, the one they sit by in a classroom, or the guy they stand next to at the post office.  When we try to grow up our people using the same method, some may grow, but it's likely most will become frustrated and give up because they can't seem to "grow."

People are different- take these examples:
1. I have had many discussions with my parents about how they raised me and my brother, who are nearly polar opposites by the way.  When asked how they raised us, there is not one answer... for they raised TWO children, two very different children.  While I cried at the sight of my parents after misbehaving, Justin tried to negotiate his punishment and/or defiantly told my dad his spankings "didn't hurt." Two different children, two different ways to bring us up in the way we should go so we could BOTH be successful and motivated.

2. Today I was student teaching in my first grade classroom.  During writing time (where each student is expected to write the whole time of writing block) a boy says "do I have to write?". To which I respond "You know you have to write the whole time." Three minutes later I find him at his desk with his head down, no motivation at all. I proceeded to ask him if he would be more willing to write if he were elsewhere in the classroom.  He chose to sit on the floor in the reading center corner and off he went. Five minutes later... writing was being put on paper.

The main idea here is that people don't all fit a mold.  Some are flexible enough or want to please people enough that they will succeed and work hard anywhere.  This is a SMALL percentage of people.
Each person is different.

What motivates one, may defeat another.

What defeats one, may cause another to thrive.

Some may flourish in a noisy setting, others may cringe at the tiniest noise because it breaks concentration.

If your followers (in my case six year olds) aren't motivated or fulfilling the potential you know they have, then just have a discussion...
They may just need to work on the floor for awhile.


  1. Pretty sure I would be "that" kid... sitting on the floor instead of a desk. Great stuff - awesome insight!!!

  2. You have successfully made me wish all teachers were like you ...