Kevin Pashuk in Directors and Executives, IT - Information Technology, English AVP - Information Technology • Sheridan Polytechnic University Jul 6, 2017 · 2 min read · 5.9K

YOU don't get to define 'Normal'. It's killing your success.

YOU don't get to define 'Normal'. It's killing your success.

I'm a nice guy.  Or at least I've been told.

I do have things that make me unique.

I'm musical.  I shoot things (with a camera). I refuse to act my age (just because there is a 'senior discount' for someone over 55 doesn't mean you have to take it). 

But even with the uniqueness, I still feel that I share many things in common with my fellow citizens.

I am considered average in a number of areas - my height, my shoe size, my hobbies, the size of my family (between 2 and 4 children), my living in the 'burbs', my Canadian-ness (sorry), and my position on the socio-economic scale in our part of the world.

There are quite a few people who share things in common with me.

But that's the problem.

Because I share so many traits with others, it is easy to assume that EVERYONE ELSE should also follow my lead in many other areas.

In a perfect world, everyone would love acoustic folk/roots and 70's rock music, a good single malt Scotch, an occasional cigar (to go with the Scotch), family, outdoors, and anything barbequed.  Kale and Tofu would become illegal substances, and Baskin Robbins would have to change their branding since the only flavour of ice cream needed is vanilla (YES, vanilla IS a flavour).

In terms of technology (and this is where I am sure to cross some lines), everyone would be using Windows based computers, Android phones, and only need Solitaire and Sudoku in the Games section of the app store.

But it's not a perfect world, and everything I just mentioned are just preferences.

My preferences.

Here's where 'false consensus' kicks in... it is easy for me to assume that everyone else shares the same likes, dislikes, beliefs, values, and preferences that I do (or at least they SHOULD).

'False Consensus' is defined (in Wikipedia) as "an attributional type of cognitive bias whereby people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others (i.e., that others also think the same way that they do)."

In everyday life, this may cause frustration with others, since they aren't 'following your lead'.

But that's not the point of the blog today.

Side note: If you follow my writings, you will know that I quite often take a while to get to the point.  For those of you who are new to my writing style, we are about to get to the meat of the issue.

As IT folk, we design, build and implement systems that are based on OUR preferences, not our users, and we wonder why so much technology sits unused. (I am sure John Vaughan has much to say about this.)

We implement Social Media strategies for our organizations that are based on our experience and preferences.  If you are over 30, you might want to talk to some Millennials to see how they use Social Media. It's probably different than you do.

We build 'personal brands', online profiles, and marketing campaigns based on what we would like to see, not necessarily what employers and clients are looking for.

We implement strategic plans that are based on our view and understanding of our experiences in our world, not on the actual technology trends that WILL impact us and disrupt our world (think AI, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, Machine Learning, blockchain, to name a few).

The point is...  YOU can't define what 'normal' is solely based on your own experience and preferences.

If you want to lead, then you need to get out of the mindset that you know what 'normal' is, and start doing some research.

You can't assume that everyone is a version of you.

Your clients and customers are a hodgepodge of uniqueness.  

In closing, I'll leave you with a couple of maxims that helped me understand this concept.

The first:

While we can generalize about people, we have to understand that all generalizations are dangerous. Including this one.

And secondly:

If we were all the same, we would all drive black Fords (or metallic grey Jeep Cherokee TrailHawks if we were doing things right).


Picture: Used under Creative Commons License

About the Author:

I’m the Chief Information Officer for Sheridan College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology. I'm also a beBee Brand Ambassador.

I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.

In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee ( , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at

I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream at 

Rhiannon Van Ross Dec 6, 2020 · #126

The user has deleted this comment

Kate Clancy Matt Aug 6, 2020 · #125

The user has deleted this comment

RITA DESMOND Jul 20, 2020 · #124

User removed

shiv singh May 19, 2020 · #123

User removed

Brenda Mayert Mar 17, 2020 · #122

I also want the day I drive a black Ford come but it seems so far and I have to try much more harder

Dubai 2020 Dec 9, 2019 · #121

Hello, I have browsed most of your posts. This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research. Thanks for posting, we can see more on this. Are you aware of any other websites on this subject.
dubai events

Bruce Wayne Oct 15, 2019 · #120

Excellent and nice post. It will beneficial for everyone. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post.

Laura Nabais Oct 8, 2019 · #119

User removed

-1 -1