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Nature 2

As humans, our need for acceptance as teenagers becomes a significant barrier to success as adults. As adults, we must often be different to achieve success. The average worker, singer, or athlete finds success elusive. The acceptance paradox states that the need to be accepted during one stage in life can prevent success in another. Remember Aesop's fable, the Hare with Many Friends:

A Hare was very popular with the other beasts, who all claimed to be her friends. But one day, she heard the hounds approaching and hoped to escape them with her many friends' aid. So, she went to the horse and asked him to carry her away from the hounds on his back. But he declined, stating that he had important work to do for his master. "He felt sure," he said, "that all her other friends would come to her assistance."  She then applied to the bull and hoped he would scare the hounds with his horns. The bull replied: "I am very sorry, but I have an appointment with a lady, but I feel sure that our friend the goat will do what you want."  The goat, however, feared that his back might do her some harm if he took her upon it. The ram, he felt sure, was the proper friend to apply to for help. So, she went to the ram and told him the case. The ram replied: "Another time, my dear friend. I do not like to interfere on the present occasion, as hounds are known to eat sheep as well as hares."  As a last hope, the Hare then applied to the calf, who regretted that he could not help her, as he did not like to take the responsibility upon himself, as so many older persons had declined the task. The hounds were relatively nearby this time, and the Hare took to her heels and luckily escaped. Moral of the story: He, with many friends, has no friends.

As teenagers and young adults, acceptance from our social peer group is significant during our formative years. The need to be accepted or fit in with a group may be essential for many to develop their own identity. Psychologists state peer acceptance can predict both social and academic success. The need to be popular is an exaggerated version of peer acceptance by a particular social group. 

So, what is the difference between these two stages of life? How does this need to be accepted manifest as potential leaders later in life? I have discovered some powerful reasons why people seek mediocrity (or average) rather than excellence for themselves and the organizations they serve.  Surprisingly, the challenge for greatness is...

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