MISFITS, kinda explained…

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OK, so you read the warning and entered this page anyway. Good for you. Now, I am going to devote the infancy of this work to conceptualizing and operationalizing ‘misfit’ … that’s academic jargon for ‘tell you what the heck a Misfit is and is not’. I will also supply some examples, and pick on myself to illustrate. I am going to build this over several posts and integrate some of your ideas as we go. I hope you are with me for the duration.

For those that know me, this will not come as a big surprise b/c they know I am a MISFIT. For those that don't know me - you will through these posts. My goal: help others become Misfits of their own - yea, odd, but you will see. But first some famous words from a famous Misfit:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land;Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Defining Misfit

The origin of the word ‘misfit’ can be traced back to 1823 as it relates to a garment which does not fit the person for whom it was intended. In 1880, it was applied to human beings to describe a person that does not fit with his/her environment. Fast forward to today and we find Misfit defined as: a person not suited in behavior or attitude to a particular social environment. One of the only social environments I know much about is work, so I will speak to the working world of misfits.

Mountains of data strongly suggest that the majority of employees are misfits. Some of the leading indicators:

  • Job Dissatisfaction is higher than Job Satisfaction
  • Satisfaction and Engagement are highly related
  • Work Engagement is a massive problem
  • Organizational Commitment is in serious decline
  • Satisfaction, Commitment, and Engagement all significantly impact performance
  • Satisfaction, Commitment, and Engagement all significantly impact well-being
  • Well-being is highly related to our Psychical Health

So, employee performance, well-being, and health are declining, right? Seems like a reasonable conclusion to reach, but the chain of links is not always a direct one – there are a lot of ‘it depends’.

Yet, and this is a big YET, most people say they fit with their jobs/careers.

There seems to be a disconnect...

Why a disconnect you ask?

Because most people equate success to high paying-high profile jobs/careers. Society would label such folks as a FIT. Because those in high paying-high profile jobs FIT with the expectations that have been placed upon them by external forces rather than following their head, heart, and hands. If that is indeed the case, then I am a MISFIT.

The results of my poll from MISFITS Part 2. I posed a simple question based upon our definition of Misfit (i.e., "A person not suited in behavior or attitude for a particular social environment"). Question: 'Are you a Misfit in some aspect of you life, like work?'

Drumroll please …

MISFITS to FITS: 5 to 1

Seems like there are some other Misfits out there too. I have been a resident on Misfit Lane for quite some time and I am pleased as punch!!!

Only when I said ‘screw-it’ and followed my heart, head, and hands, did I find what I was after: A job/career that made me happy. A job/career that allows me to spend time with my family. A job/career that lets me learn as much as possible. A job/career that provides enough financial resources to take care of the things I need to take care of (and a few of those wants). As the saying goes, ‘even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then’. I found Industrial/ Organizational Psychology… I/O Psych for short. If you are wondering what this is, you can learn more here: www.siop.org Yea – some are gonna find this really boring… I get that, but to me and several thousands of others around the world, this is a great profession… I found fit, but only after I decided to be a MISFIT.

Heck, I might even be a Misfit in the field of I/O Psych b/c I try to wear two hats simultaneously: one hat is my professor hat (business research hat) and the other hat is my real-world hat (practitioner hat). Most of my academic colleagues think I am a misfit because I actually want research to have actionable impact to boost employee morale, well-being, and performance. My practitioner friends think I am wasting time researching new ideas/solutions and not just ‘getting stuff done’. Lip service would relay a message that ‘everyone does both’… but alas, those that actually do both are in the vast minority. Sorry, I just can’t help it – I enjoy doing both and honestly believe that business research needs to be application-focused and business application needs to be research driven.

My misfit mindset has lead me to be a lifelong student of I/O Psych in hopes of helping people and the organizations they work for thrive. A misfit who is a Fellow in the Society for I/O Psychology—the most prestigious group of I/O Psychologists in the world, a former editor for the prestigious Journal of Management, published over 50 journal articles and book chapters, given hundreds of talks, and founded a pretty successful business.

I actually got a PhD from Georgia Institute of Technology and made it through Wharton’s elite Advanced Management Program. Love chasing critters in the fall, coaching my kids' soccer teams, catching redfish, pretending to be a chef, trying to gain a deeper world view, learning as much as possible, and seeing my students, friends, colleagues, & clients become misfits of their own!

Yep, I am a misfit. I love it. I have finally realized that when I grow up, I simply want to be a Goony. A misfit, adventure seeking, loving-every-minute of the journey, making a positive impact Goony! Society has slapped a big label on my forehead: MISFIT.

Odds are you are a MISFIT too…and that can be a very good thing!

Plan for MISFITS: ‘If you want a good laugh, tell God your plan’ – I give my dad credit for this because he was the first one I heard say it. Similarly, when I got to spend a day training with the FDNY (uh – studs at FDNY!), Commander Regan introduced me to the saying: ‘Don’t Marry the Plan’. Both sayings are golden nuggets and are quite important for MISFITS because I am going to describe my plan for MISFITS below… and it will likely change. We will adapt as necessary and our path will be a curvy one and will likely back track over itself as we move forward.

The plan for MISFITS is rather simple: I want to use my experience as an I/O Psychologist to help others find success (i.e., happiness). I will pull from my experiences as a professor, researcher, consultant, business owner, parent, husband, son, grandson, outdoorsman, screw-up, and many other roles I find myself in …

Plus, this is not just my ‘platform’ – this is our platform, a place for MISFITs to come together, learn, discuss, and grow as individuals as each seeks to gain success. Sure, I will be writing articles and sharing what I believe to be good content – at least content that I think we can learn from - and I will use evidence to support content. While opinions are sometimes entertaining and maybe in rare circumstances even informative, they do not need to be confused with evidence: data, facts, expertise. I will use evidence.

I will also be highlighting MISFIT stories or ‘testimonials’ of others. I envision some of these people might be highly accomplished while some might be still searching or even some that are accomplished yet searching! I will also pull from fiction to highlight wonderful MISFIT characters.

MISFITs will be conversational. In my life, some of the most important learnings have occurred in the kitchen. This is something the Wallace family does – the kitchen is the heart of the house. Homework, family discussions, vacation planning, and even writing this column all center around the kitchen. At work, many important lessons are delivered over food. Food gets people talking. First rule of consulting – ‘give them coffee & muffins’. Why do I bring this up? Because I would like MISFITs to occur in the ‘kitchen’ in a conversational manner where we can all learn and grow.

Delivery for MISFITS: I am primarily going to use the MISFIT webpage: www.iamamisfit.com (launching 7/4/17) and LinkedIn. I will also use Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram. If you know me, this should give you a good laugh, because for your years I have been social media adverse. Until now and my kids are teaching me how to use them ;-)

I am looking forward to this journey. Welcome.