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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Shakespeare

The Pink Thong Test

Updated: Dec 10, 2018

Sometimes people make a bold statement because they are visionary leaders. Sometimes they want their views to be heard and sometimes they want to hear their thoughts out loud.

While on a family holiday, I was walking along the beach past the thousands of people enjoying the sun, sand and sea. People from many countries. People of all ages, sizes, and shapes. All different and yet all blending into one group.

One man caught my attention though, a middle-aged man who was generally unremarkable other than his choice of swimwear; a bright pink thong. On a beach where no two swimsuits were the same, his made the boldest statement, but I didn't know what that statement was. It could be "Hey everyone! Look at me!", or "I'm here. I'm wearing this and I don't care if you don't like it, you don't have to look at me.". Alternatively, perhaps he wasn't making a statement but wearing it because he wanted to and didn't think anyone would notice him among the thousands of people.

Ultimately though, he chose his swimsuit irrespective of whether other people were wearing the same thing or not. In many ways, that is the perspective of many visionaries; to make the boldest statement in a world in which they see things differently and aren't weighed-down by whether people agree with them or not.

Back at work, one person was doing a very similar thing. He would loudly proclaim that other people were doing things wrong and he couldn't understand why they couldn't just do things his way. I think he thought of himself as the visionary leader, but ultimately it was public criticism and nobody was immune.

I have previously seen people like this referred to as toxic and to be avoided at all costs. He was definitely an unsettling influence on those around him (and this behaviour was not tolerated), but I think he saw himself as a visionary loudly proclaiming what everyone should be doing and not being mindful of whether people agreed with him or whether there was a better way of presenting his view. Often it is the most subtle ways that help to attract the support that differentiates those who start to make the change happen from those who just complain loudly.

Everyone has a perspective on a situation and we gain so much as a team from bringing those different perspectives together providing people present their views in a constructive manner where everyone respects and values each other's input.

In my mind, my vocal colleague thought he was merely presenting his perspective in the only way he knew. After my holiday though, I couldn't help but think he was just wearing a pink thong.

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