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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Common But Not Normal



When I look around me, I see both good and bad. Our society is full of positive components, like volunteerism, new and helpful technology, and breakthrough medical procedures that lengthen our lives. At the same time, I see lots of broken things—in organizations, families, education, churches and government.

My concern for leaders is—that we let what’s become common be considered normal.

Let me give you an example:

I know of a company who recently hired a very, emotionally insecure employee. This new staff member is prone to suspect the worst in her bosses, to gossip about team members and negatively affect the culture of the office. I believe the job of her manager is to bring this new staff member up to the standards of the company, not allow her to diminish those standards. But, alas, it’s easy to assume that it’s just normal today. People are dysfunctional.

That observation is both true and false.

Many people are dysfunctional today. There is far too much abuse, divorce, addictive behavior and hurt than there should be. It’s far too common. But leaders (in families or organizations) should not see this as “normal.” Normal must be healthy. We must always work to make things healthy. Healthy things grow. That’s our standard.

Last month, the Federal deficit reached a new milestone. America is now $15 trillion in debt. Sadly, the congressional super-committee failed to come up with any ideas to reduce our debt. It is easy for us to simply conclude that’s just the way things are today. In fact, we expect most households to carry large amounts of credit card debt.

The educational system in many states is broken. American students continue to fall behind in test scores when compared to other industrialized nations. Once again, we could assume it’s just the way things are today, and look to other venues to educate our kids. We don’t think we can really fix education.

Half of our marriages crumble into divorce. Sexual crime is reported in Washington D.C., among NCAA programs at universities and in corporate America. Pornographic sites continue to top the list of Internet sites visited. Pedophilia has become an issue in the news today. One report suggests that since one in twenty men prefer sex with children—it should be considered a lifestyle preference.

My response? This is far too common, but I refuse to assume it is normal.

So, here is what I am doing. I’m reviewing the broken elements in my life and the organization I lead. Then—I will force myself to ask: Is this problem normal or common? If I conclude it’s common, but shouldn’t be normal, I will construct a plan to nurse that element back to health. It may mean I must…

•  Raise the emotional intelligence of a team member

•  Adjust the financials, either the budget or the Profit and Loss

•  Create innovative ways to approach projects and people

•  Discipline myself to do what I don’t like doing

Will you join me in this pursuit?  Let’s not settle for normal!




An Update on Habitudes for Communicators

In last month’s Leadership Link article, Communicate or Stagnate, I announced that
for the first time in 5 years we are releasing a new Habitudes book: Habitudes for Communicators.

Like the other Habitudes books, it will be filled with images that represent timeless principles, to be read, discussed and applied as a team. The images in this book revolve around engaging and communicating with the next generation. You’ll learn how to communicate effectively through images like Windows and Mirrors, #3 Pencil, House on Fire, the Faded Flag, School Yearbook and more.

We are offering a special pre-order discount and a bonus gift.

The Habitudes for Communicators book retails for $20. For a limited time, the pre-order price is $12. With your purchase you will also receive an audio download of “A New Kind of Leader.” There are also special discounts for purchases of ten or more.

CLICK HERE to pre-order your copy of HABITUDES FOR COMMUNICATORS today!


  1. Helena on December 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Awesome . I like what you said Tim. It is so ture and we are called to stop the common and the normal. I would like to know of ways to raise the emotional intellegence of my team members

  2. Mike on December 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks Tim and staff!
     What a real much needed topic for me to review, and apply. I am already taking steps w you to be my best, to climb to that place where my vision is crystal clear and where I can have opportunities to share and lead as an example! Glad to see you on the Royal ranger event next March too, I hope to say hi and shake your hand. God Bless you Tim. Mike Barnes, RN

  3. Steve Thacker on December 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Tim, I agree with you whole-heartedly!   Employers and Managers need to recognize that WE decide what is normal – not the “vocal minority” that seems to make the Nightly News.  Our employees are our #1 asset, and by empowering them with responsibility, you raise thier level of esteem, and comitment to your business.  Today’s young employees lack the social-skills required to interface with people face to face, as they spend most of time communicating on Social Media in cryptic “digital shorthand” acronyms.  They need counseling on “real” interpersonal relationships, re-learning how to make eye-contact, and speak pleasantly.  Customers need exceptional service levels to ensure repeat business – and we as Business Owners need to empower our employees to act and speak as we would.  I look forward to your thoughts on this, Happy Holidays to you and yours!!

    Steve Thacker
    Original Impressions
    Miami, Florida
    [email protected]

  4. Bob Sipper, on December 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Insightful.  Changing normal is quite abnormal.  It seems that we are asking the next step to be a cultural shift with a broader brush stroke.  In our current culture of immediate access to everything and the desire for instant results, we don’t often spend the time to mentor to the level we wish culture would be when “normal.”  Time is oft required, but ill tolerated.  I’m challenged and encouraged to be a better leader and be a developer of leaders with a new culture in sight.  Thanks Tim!

  5. Kathy on December 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Tim you have a way of taking the complicated and making it simple.  I agree, we too often assume common equals normal.  I will take up the challenge, examine my life, and work to change those items that are not normal.  It has to start with ourselves.  Thanks for the challenge!

  6. Centralbased on December 5, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    I love the positive twist on things also.   But I am also sure that you are aware that employees in Michigan were lied about and pistol whipped out of their jobs.  These are healthy normal people who should have been allowed to grow; but were not because the P&L of Fortune 100 companies hit the skids for the past 10 years.      After leadership beat people to death and threw them overboard to drown in a slow sea of debt, these same leaders  have no right to declare this base of survivors as being too “unhealthy”  to be allowed back into their “normal” positions.     To do so brings an old French expression to mind…….Let Them Eat Cake.   

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Common But Not Normal