There is a phenomenon that occurs in culture and society that is an underlying (and in most cases) automatic acceptance of what is. Our brains can “generalize” information and take shortcuts to come up with beliefs that we accept as being true that may in fact be false. This phenomenon is stereotyping.

From birth we grow up with an inherent adoption of the role we are meant to play. For example, boys are male; they dress and act like a “male” and do male activities. Girls are female; they dress and act like a “female” and do “female activities. This is of course a broad generalization but you get the picture.

In 1995 psychologists Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson did an experiment that articulated the mechanism of “stereotype threat.” This experiment specifically showed how the stereotypes we hold and believe about ourselves can impact our performance.

The problem with stereotyping is that it doesn’t account for an individual’s natural gifts and talents that may take them way outside the general stereotype that they are expected to live by. Secondly it can lead to people being labeled in a pejorative way and not accepted for who they are or people being labeled incorrectly to describe them as something they are not. Thirdly and the greatest travesty of all, is that instead of harnessing an individual’s strengths and talents and utilizing them for the betterment of all, they are not seen for who they truly are. The world misses out on the gift of their unique qualities, characteristics and ability to be a valuable contribution.

Stereotyping occurs right across the board and does not only occur between male and female genders. It occurs within gender types, age, race, socio-economic background, religion, education, culture, media, social media and on and on. The fact that it exists is not as much an issue as the fact that we choose to accept it, rather than see what else is there, what else is possible, what can we choose to see, become aware of and cultivate instead.

Where is it showing up in your life right now? Are you willing to accept it or be who you really are? Where is it showing up in your family and what’s the impact? What about your friends, acquaintances, business partners?

Where is it showing up in your business? Are you getting the best out of your executive team, all of your employees and your business associates? How do you know or are you simply assuming? What are you not seeing? Where and how else could all these individuals shine? What about you? Are you shining at your best?

While stereotyping may be the norm, it is a recipe that breeds ordinary at best and mental construct to keep people trapped within boundaries at its most insidious.

The question is: Where do you want to play? Do you have what it takes to go from ordinary to extraordinary? If so, are you willing to do whatever it takes? Will you choose to think differently and act differently in alignment with your purpose, your inner guidance system and your authentic Self?

Does it take courage? Yes! Like anything of immense value it takes heart and drive.

When you choose to be extraordinary, to move beyond the stereotype the results speak for themselves. Is it worth standing out and shining and being who you are?

Absolutely!!!! And definitely worth it in the end!


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