This little gal was a feral cat and her owner was told she would never fit into the family. Growing up feral she would be standoffish, run away, and not want to be around people. The veterinarian did not recommend trying to get to know the cat or feed it. Leave it alone because it will always be a problem.
This little gal now lives with three dogs and loves her family. She likes afternoon naps in the sun and always comes around when things are happening at the barn. She lets people pet her on her terms and always finds a way to bring joy to her new family. The veterinarian was wrong, very wrong. All the elements of being a feral cat were just bad labels for this sweet little feline.
We do this sort of thing all the time. We make statements due to our past experience and apply them to people across the board. We use words like lazy, unmotivated, troublesome, standoff-ish, high maintenance, annoying, or troublesome. We judge people by a generalization and that puts them in a box. We then assume how they will behave in the future by the way people ‘usually’ behave who live in that kind of box. Assuming is a dangerous business when it comes to dealing with people. In my experience when given the chance most people will prove that they are more than your simple box allows.
I had a young man who worked for me and everyone had given up on him. I was warned very strongly against hiring him as he had been ‘high maintenance’ in the past. He was a ‘problem child’ and no one thought he would do the job let alone contribute to the team. I did not find this out until after I decided to hire him. Everyone had an opinion on why I should not hire him, and no one thought he could do the job but me. I hired him anyway. He blossomed and developed skills no one ever imagined possible. He brought great ideas to the table and developed himself into an amazing man who leads multi-national teams to this day.
Like this little feral kitty no one thought much of the young man. They had put him in a box due to past experiences with his ‘type’. The lesson I learned was to give people who want a chance the opportunity to prove their worth and value. Allow them room to navigate and develop their own life to become who they never thought possible. Give them bandwidth to shed their old habits and develop new ways of living. Most people just want the chance to prove themselves, they have dreams and ideas and just need the opportunity to work hard and build there own future. When we take people out of our self-imposed boxes they have the opportunity to thrive and become a valuable member of the team. It’s a risk and will change not just their life but yours as well.