Deviance. Sounds sinister, doesn’t it? Like something out of a Stephen King book. In fact, most people associate deviance with negative behavior. Behavior that goes against the norms of the community. Me too. Yet, there is also positive deviance. This type of deviance describes behaviors and strategies that enable one to be more successful than their peers.
I find that the majority of people focus on the negative. On negative gaps. On how you or the organization “missed” the mark, the target, the norm. Yes, some focus on the positive. Thank you! The world needs more of you!!!
For decades, in the field of psychology, the vast majority of study has focused on negative behavior, negative deviance. We’ve studied the “bad” people. Serial killers. Psychopaths. Terrorists. Yet recently a “new” field of psychology has emerged. It’s called Positive Organizational Psychology (POS) or Positive Organizational Behavior. It’s basically the study of positive deviance. It’s a study of how extremely successful people and organizations think and behave.
As a follower of Jesus, leader, husband, father, son, brother, and community member, this appeals to me. Why? I’m not exactly sure. But why would I want to study psychopaths or serial killers. They scare me. Seriously. … If I aspire to greatness. If I want to make a difference. If I want to serve others. Be successful. Leave a legacy … why wouldn’t I study those who have successfully achieved these same goals?
It makes intuitive sense to me. Study and learn from those whom I admire. How did Jesus walk? How did George Washington lead? Why do some leaders make a difference? How do they do it? What can I learn from them?
I encourage you to google Positive Organizational Psychology if you have an interest in learning more. Some of you will. But for everyone, I encourage you to focus on the positive in yourself, others, your organization. How can you improve? How can you replicate the success of others? Learn from positive deviance. Study strategies of success. Role-model positive deviant behaviors.
Look for the good in others, for the beauty that surrounds you, for the music that is played in the hearts of those in your organization. Listen to people. Truly listen. Not only with your ears, but with your heart. Be attuned to positive deviance. Seek it out. Study it. Role-model these behaviors. Be different. Make a difference.
The colorful “stars” jumped out at me as I walked along the path. Christmas decorations. A bit of Spanish and Pinoy culture mixed together. These colorful bits of wood and plastic represent positive deviance. They stand out from the background, from their surroundings. … Do you see it? Is this how others see you? Are you making a positive difference? Maybe someone will look at you and say “Wow! I want to be like them! They’re a difference-maker!”
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.
Photo by Author