The Human Dichotomy: My Three Simple Assumptions

The human dichotomy: are people basically “good” or “bad”?

You’re answer to this question sits at the core of how you lead, manage, and connect with the world.

For me, the answer is a resounding “good”. I believe there are three things to be true of all human beings:

  1. Everyone wants to do a good job
  2. Everyone wants to feel like their opinion matters, or to be heard
  3. Everyone has the capacity to grow, or learn new things

Of course there are circumstances beyond our control that can impact an individual’s ability to fundamentally posses one or all of the criteria I have laid out. However, beyond these extenuating circumstances, I believe these three things to be true of all people.

An individual’s capacity, or strength of desire to attain any of the three criteria will oscillate over time. As such, we must meet people “where they currently are” and seek to provide the resources and conditions that will help them succeed. Clare W. Graves, a professor of psychology and originator of a theory of adult human development, said it best,

Damn it all, a person has a right to be. A person has a right to be what he/she is. He/she shouldn’t have to change to get your work done. Be flexible enough to manage him/her the way he/she needs to be managed for him/her to perform the work, not you.

What are your fundamental assumptions about people? Are the aligned with how you aspire to lead, manage, and connect with the world?