The fear of being different is the difference between making a difference and making no difference. We all share a common calling – to make a difference, to use our potential to make a difference in lives in order to change the world for the better. Those who made a difference in our lives chose to be different. They overcame their fear of being different to lead the way.
The biggest obstacles in education and training is the complex mix of stereotyping and fear of being different. They are connected. Stereotyping promotes fear of being different, and vice-versa. It happens in the classroom, sports, and work. The system tries to cram students and employees into one model that fits conventional thinking, even if the fit has to be forced.
Stereotyping students is the easy way out of having to teach them and coach them. It’s easy to separate students into two groups – the talented go here and the untalented go there. The words ‘talented’ and ‘untalented’ are dangerous words because of their misuse. Talent evaluation is skewed in education, sports, and work where self-professed experts use the wrong evidence or partial evidence to attach the labels of talented and untalented.
Wrong labeling starts in school. It takes no effort to fit students with a label, that they carry around for life, to help justify the lack or will or capacity to teach them, to coach them, and to mentor them in order to develop their full potential. I coach a sport where students are fit into stereotypes by appearance alone. The quarterback position in Football is the best example. If a student is too short, too slow, too pudgy, he is deemed unworthy of being a quarterback. Focusing on deficiencies ignores efficiencies. The same happened in the college law enforcement program I taught in. Stereotypes of who would make a ‘good cop’ and who would not, replaced the most important evidence of all – proof by performance. Superficiality and artificiality over seeing reality is the dangerous game of stereotyping.
Stereotyping promotes fear of being different and vice-versa. Stereotyping is a form a brainwashing that tries to make us believe that it’s impossible to make a difference if you are different. Those who stereotype try to discourage through the fear of being different. Stereotypers arrogantly believe that it’s impossible to achieve unless you fit a specific mold. The victims of stereotyping have two choices – surrender to the fear of being different or fight it. If you have ever been stereotyped, you had to choose between giving in to the foolish notion that it’s impossible to achieve by being different, or, fighting through #TheProcess to prove the stereotypers wrong.
Giving in to the pressures of stereotyping is one of the main causes of wasted potential, of burying God-given gifts and talents instead of developing them. Wasted potential leads to the pain of underachieving that manifests in soul-killing symptoms – regret, bitterness, anger, contempt, hate, and every emotion that corrupts the environment with conflict. Underachievers suffer the inner conflict of unresolved cognitive difference that spreads to the environment, infecting the air and those weak enough to let it sink into their minds, hearts, and souls.
The story of Tom Denison is an inspiration to all students, employees, or anyone in any field who has to fight stereotyping. Tom Denison’s story is a remarkable journey of a student-athlete who beat incredible odds to become a record-breaking quarterback who became the most unlikely winner of the best university player award and then made it to the pros at a position where no one believed he had a chance. Tom Denison’s story shares valuable insight about how to succeed despite stereotyping, despite being different from what mainstreamers believe is normal.
Tom is an X Player. I coached him for 22 games in 1997-98 and witnessed his record-braking high performance. His journey to the pros is a remarkable one of perseverance, overcoming one of the toughest adversities of all – stereotyping. Labeling. Stigmas that hold you back. The Tom Denison story is one of the best examples of how to judge – by performance. High-performance is not reserved for the elite, the naturally gifted, the affluent, or those who have inherited a DNA fortune. His back-to-back Hec Crighton awards, symbolic of the best Canadian university football player, led Tom to a being signed as a pro in the CFL. Tom endured #TheProcess in a way that has to be heard to be believed.
Please listen to Tom Denison’s inspiring story on Blunt Talk Podcast at: www.BluntTalk.Libsyn.com
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 NCCP (Nat’l Coaching Certification Program)
Head coach – Niagara X-Men Football
Owner – X Fitness Inc.
Blogs – www.GinoArcaro.com and www.SWATFootball.ca