Fear culture or performance culture

Every day we read the news in which some cesspool is opened where the creeping odor is truly unbearable. It especially stinks when someone has not followed the rules imposed. In this day and age, you apparently have to be creamier than the Pope. If you want to be distinctive, caution is called for because oh woe is you if you color outside the lines. Dissenting opinions are poorly tolerated, before you know it you are “kaltgestellt. To avoid this risk, we adjust our behavior, preferring to be on the safe side. This is where it pinches, because performance and caution do not tolerate each other very well. 

Prudence scares people and causes them to rush ahead within a culture of fear. Fear, like bacteria in a petri dish, multiplies rapidly in our society. Because people can anonymously accuse each other of transgressive and/or wrong behavior, fear proliferates everywhere like Japanese Knotweed. 'Canceling' people and brands has become our favorite popular sport, nothing and no one is safe today. We shut out whole hordes of people instead of letting them in. How did we get into this? Once upon a time it started with good intentions, that everyone could participate so no one was left out. How beautiful is that? An inclusive society where everyone has a place, that was the dream. But alas, we have fallen through. Socially, we have arrived at a point where preventing fear is given a more prominent place than enabling the best performance. 

Imagine if the Dutch national team did not field the best footballers but anyone who wanted to participate? That the team is a reflection of our society? That is directly detrimental to performance. No one should be surprised that Dutch soccer no longer achieves any success. If everyone is allowed to participate then the soccer qualities will be substandard. The chain within the team will be as strong as its weakest link, sporting decay will surely set in. 

Performance can only be achieved if you train people and are allowed to substitute. Mind you, switching is different from writing someone off because every coach knows that a strong bench helps determine success. Not someone's opinion, gender or ethnicity should be central to be heard but rather high-performing people deserve to be in the spotlight. Give people space to excel because without friction, no shine!

Ruud Olijve

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