Some People Are Just Born This Way

March 29, 2011

By Laurie Clarke, COO, The Tatham Group


As coaches we spend every day working with people to change the way they think.  The question we often ask is why people think the way they do in the first place?  The best answer we have found is that behavioral norms are developed from childhood that only get stronger over time.

What if we could intercept this training and start teaching children?  What if we stop teaching altogether as children are already born this way?


A wonderful leader and Tatham team member shared the following story with us.


My daughter (6 yrs old) received a pink blanket as a baby gift. Ever since she was a baby, it has always been a special blanket to her and one she frequently wants with her with she goes to sleep but it’s starting to fade away in importance as she gets older. Over the past couple of weeks she has had a few nights where she’s woke up screaming due to bad dreams.

Saturday night as I was helping her get ready for bed she said the following to me, “Mom, I wonder if my blanket is the problem with me having bad dreams. The last couple of nights I haven’t had bad dreams and I haven’t had my blanket with me when I sleep. I think I should sleep with my blanket tonight and see if I have bad dreams.”

Wow – she was setting up an experiment to control a variable! I was proud of her for taking this route because she was risking having another bad dream if it would help her identify the root cause!

Results: Not a proven root cause – no bad dreams with the blanket!

However, I may have a Tatham prodigy on my hands…

  • I just watched a video about (among other things) how young children have abilities including divergent thinking (creativity) that are basically drummed out of them by the school system. http://bit.ly/9qpM35

    I had similar thoughts when I first came across Roger Martin’s “design thinking” work a few years ago: “so, all this effort to put back in what the school system takes out.”

    I survived with much of my creative thinking intact, but I will be very honest when I say it was not always well received in the corporate world. (Although in your line of work, that will probably not surprise you.)

    • Thank you for sharing this video. It is a topic of discussion around our office. If only we could fix things at the root of the problem and develop a way to change the education system proactively with the changing environment.

      Michael Tatham explains our training sessions as the place where executives come to unlearn. The organizational environment is often what is most resistant to individuals changing the way they think. Changing the person without changing the culture is a difficult thing indeed.