How many times have been asked “How are you?” and you have responded, “Fine”. Hundreds? Thousands? Fine is a standard, polite response to a standard conditioned question of our societal programming. What happens when someone responds with something other than a typical “fine” or “good”? What happens when you get a real response? “Well, let me tell you how my day has gone,” or even a “fantastic,” or “stupendous”? What if you know the person and know that “fine” is really “F.I.N.E.” – an acronym for “freaked, irritated, neurotic, and exasperated”?
The words we say and the meaning we attach to them may or may not mean the same to others. We communicate with each other in context and subcontext. We use expressions and body language. We use our history and our previous conversations and communications to provide other meanings to our current communications. Our words are not just what we are saying at this moment; they include the relationship and history of what has been said and what we know about what has gone on before.
The success of our communication may, therefore, be determined by a smile or a word. It may also be determined by the relationships of those around us and the connections we have established with those who are participating in a meeting, an event, or whatever other type of communication is taking place.
I’m not sure what the terminology actually means or the context in which it originated, but I’ve heard the terminology or status reported as “situation normal” somewhere. Recently in my travels I encountered a colorful character who made me think about the phrase and about applying the term “normal.” “Normal” is definitely a relative term. And this particular person, well somehow made me think of another person I met many years ago that said “fine” is really an acronym for most people if they would just admit it.
Acronyms. We all use them and I think the term “normal” lends itself to an application of treatment by acronym. Normal by any other name is well, not. How would you spell normal?
- Nice, neurotic, new, nitwit…
- Outgoing, ongoing, outrageous, optimistic…
- Responsive, realistic, revenue-oriented, reclusive…
- Mature, multi-dimensional, milestone-dependent, myopic…
- Alert, appropriate, allowable, attitudinal…
- Logical, loquacious, likely, lackadaisical
What is NORMAL?
The spectrum of what is “NORMAL” is vast and varied. Is it variety which enables us to succeed? Is it variety which prevents us from succeeding? The ability to create and package the unique capability of our product, our service, our technology and our capability is critical to the success of our organizations. The ability to adapt and present our image in a manner which is an acceptable “package,” which fits within the spectrum of “NORMAL” is one aspect of business that challenges some more than others. Standing out from the crowd in the competitive market place is desirable when it comes to “capability”. If, however, we are talking about the other end of the scale, the place where you are perceived to be indifferent about what it takes to succeed, well, that definition of “normal” won’t get you where you may want to go.
Potential stakeholders – whether they are customers, investors, or strategic allies – all want to know that you are willing to work and work hard, to do what it takes to meet timelines and deliver on commitments. If your “NORMAL” doesn’t include paying attention to the business aspect of getting a product to market and dealing with details such as accounting and marketing as well as the thousands of other things must be completed to be in business, then you better have someone in the organization who has those skills and abilities as part of their “NORMAL”. You also better be committed to giving up enough control and authority for that other person to do those things and do them well.
If your “NORMAL” is being “optimistic” about how things will go, if you think your idea is going to solve all the world’s problems and everyone is going to come rushing to your door to hand you millions of investment dollars and millions more to buy your product, then you better find someone else who is REALSITIC as part of their “NORMAL”. You need to find someone else who will pull together the market data, do the analysis, find the information on who will be interested in buying your product, who will be your competition, and how much money you will need to develop your product and get it to market. This list could go on and on. The bottom line is this: you need balance for your business to succeed. Optimism is great! Realism is necessary.
You may believe your way of thinking and communicating is normal. To be successful, however, certain things just need to happen, whether or not they are part of your “NORMAL.”. Finding the right combination of “NORMAL” amongst your team means finding a balance which enables things to get done and done well. Situation NORMAL…hmmm…Situation Successful! Yeah I like that!
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