Potential

Within society, people are often judged to determine their worthiness for privileges, such as holding jobs, participating in higher education, or becoming one's friend. These judgements often fail to consider a person's potential. Greater things are possible when you give other people a chance.

A prime example of judging others can be seen in the hiring process of most companies. Take a look at the job ads, and it's often quite amazing what qualifications companies expect to find. Sometimes the requirements are so specific and extensive, that apparently the employer wants an exact clone of their employee who quit to get a better job! I have seen companies post such ads, get many dozens of applications notwithstanding, and still reject them all because "they can't find any qualified people!"

Young adults coming out of technical institutes and colleges are frustrated, being turned away from job after job because they don't have the required experience. Where are they supposed to get this experience, if nobody gives them a chance?

The typical hiring process is a "screening out" process rather than a recruiting process. Often it is even done by computer, so that resumes lacking specific keywords are eliminated. Then, of a small group of finalists, the manager is supposed to judge the person's ability within a 1 hour interview. Those candidates who are "good talkers" have the advantage, while others who are skilled in the job but not in the gab are eliminated. Some people are simply awkward in interview, or perhaps English isn't their first language, or they are from a culture that doesn't seem to fit in.

Organizations sometimes encourage managers to accept diverse cultures in their hiring, but that isn't sufficient by itself to give oportunites to those who are traditionally excluded. If you are in the role of a hiring manager, how about creating opportunities by hiring summer students or coop students, or creating temporary positions where staff from other units can learn new roles? You may find that seeking out and growing talent is a much better success factor for your organization than the "screening out" method.

In school systems of the past, "screening out" has also been a problem. Instead of turning all the students into winners, the system was designed to separate the winners from the losers. The winners would go on to higher education and the losers would be left to drop out, to accept low-paid labour intensive jobs, or in some cases to adopt a life of crime as their only means of self-support. Fortunately, many more modern school systems include means for students to get extra help if they are falling behind, with the goal that nobody will be abandoned.

When planning any kind of endeavor with other people, it is just as important to see their potential as to judge their worthiness. This is obvious with children, but also important with adults.

In another part of this web site I had commented on the expanding wave of generosity. Worthiness and potential are important here, so I'll explain a bit more... Here's how it works: Imagine an area of the world stricken by poverty, arising due to a natural disaster or perhaps just a general lack of education in the area. Now imagine a group of donors, who rescue those people by providing them with food, clothing and shelter so they can get by, plus education and resources so that they can begin producing their own food, clothing and shelter. The original donors didn't have sufficient capacity to rescue everyone, but some are rescued. Soon, those rescued people are not only self-sufficient, but they are busy rescuing yet more people.

The benefit achieved can be compared to throwing a stone in a still pond. There is ripple that spreads out across the surface of the pond in a widening circle. That describes the concept of the expanding wave of generosity: one small act can have a much wider effect over time.

When the donors tossed that pebble into the pond by rescuing a few people, they didn't know whether the wave would spread. Obviously it would be preferable to rescue kind, generous people than selfish ones, because that way the wave would spread and the initial gift would have more impact. So the most worthy recipients are the generous ones. But how can the donors know in advance, if those poverty stricken people have never been given a chance? Sometimes you just have to see the potential and give it a try.

It is well known that people will often try to live up to the expectations that are placed on them, so as not to create disappointment in others whom trusted them. You can't always be sure that will work. Some people have some bad habits that they aren't interested in changing. But sometimes all that is necessary is for you to "believe in someone" and amazing things happen.



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