Why is it that we have extreme reactions to certain people?
For example, I know a teenager who managed, on the first day of school this year, to offend at least half of his high school teachers.
His Algebra instructor is especially peeved at the boy, perhaps because his pupil passed a similar class a few years ago, already knows the material, and barely disguises his contempt over having to take substantially the same course again and again.
You would think the kid would be at least minimally political about school, smiling every now and then, giving eye contact to his teachers, and keeping his mouth shut for most of the sessions.
But, alas, this is beyond him, not just because he’s a teenage boy, though I have it on good authority that this biological condition informs much of his apparent madness.
What really irks his instructors, and I suppose most adults he encounters, is the fact that he’s a free spirit.
There, I said it.
He hears the different drummer, literally. As a musician and an artist he hears lots of things that would escape the attention of the average Algebra teacher.
For instance, I doubt very much that this teacher, who is quite knowledgeable in his area, can play piano. Nor do I believe he play violin so well that he tutors others, and is actually considered “gifted" by those that know him in orchestral contexts.
Numerical wizard as that instructor might be, it’s also unlikely that he can draw or paint like this boy, who just finished a summer scholarship to a university’s advance placement program for talented young artists.
And that, I believe, is why this youth arouses such extreme reactions. It is because he is just that, an artist, and most artists are misunderstood, especially by authority figures whose function it is to socialize them, to normalize them, if you will.
As long as they don’t execute him before he graduates, this kid will make his way in life. I believe he’ll contribute things that are completely unexpected, and occasionally, delightful, even to the prissiest professors.
But he won’t please them by trying. It will occur as an offshoot of being himself, because he’s going to be genuine, the real deal, whether adults, now or later, like it or not.
Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 800 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered a foremost expert in telephone effectiveness, customer service, and sales development. A top-rated speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at: email@example.com .