One Trick Pony… or Goat

I heard a Ted Radio Hour talk this past weekend http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/on the subject of “Framing your Story” and it had me thinking about Resumes.

One if the segments included an interview with Chimamanda Adichie on the dangers of a single story.  http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=188622390&m=186313074 The danger of a single story is the tendency to reduce the person to a single dimension based on the limited information we have.  In its worst form it is prejudice.  The author gave a different example; one of being a Nigerian college student in the United States. Her roommate assumed that English was not her first language (despite it being the national language of Nigeria) and that she had no knowledge of American Pop music or how to use a stove.  It was not so much prejudice but a “patronizing, well meaning pity”.

Her story reminded me of the time I worked in Denmark.  I was very concerned when I saw the Simpson’s on TV there.  I thought everyone would think all Americans were like them.  I was assured by my Danish friends that Homer is not unique to the United States he is in their words, “a universal”.  It dawned on me that it was presumptuous of me (and insulting to them) to assume they would think that there was just one story to describe Americans.  

Yet, I can’t help but think that all of us fall prey to this danger all of the time.

Although not the point of his own talk in this Ted Radio Hour episode, Andrew Stanton tells a joke that illustrates the “single story danger” in a very picturesque way.   http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=188646473&m=186302058

I worry about resumes and interviews.  In our fast paced work world they seem (of necessity) to be designed to tell a single story.  

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Dan Clark

Dan Clark

Principal of Bowline Consulting, process designer/fixer, wireless telecom veteran, addicted pick up soccer player, fly fisher, backpacker, beer brewer, guitar player, choir singer, recovering bag piper

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