With advent upon us, the airwaves are chock full of the colourful ritual of holiday specials. Many are time honoured classics, but my favourite has always been the Burl Ives ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’. The tale of Rudolph itself is one of the most renowned parable of turning adversity advantage. A poor creature who suffers ridicule and humiliation over a something different about him – his famously red nose – and yet it is this very nose that ‘saved Christmas’ that foggy eve.
Now the producers certainly had to come up with some added plot lines to turn a three minute song into an hour long show, but how they did it was quite inspired. They created a quirky crew of imaginative characters – Hermey the Elf Dentist, Yukon Cornelius, as well as the Train with Square Wheels, the ‘Charlie in the Box’, the Squirt Gun that squirts Jelly, a cowboy that rides a ostrich and the whole collection of Misfit Toys. All of the characters had in common a set of ‘failures’ that they had to come to terms with.
This story provides a different angle on ‘failure’ which is the power of diversity. Society is full of ideals, paragons, and norms these serve a plenty useful purpose. But, someone who ‘fails’ to achieve aspects of these role models due to some something that makes them ‘different’ can quite commonly have a self-image and public image of ‘failure’. But as the ‘diversity’ movement in corporate and public life is promoting, it is very often these differences that provide richness and distinctive value. Elves make great dentists, Abominable Snowmen (akak ‘Bumbles’) can put stars on top of Christmas trees and red-nosed reindeers can save Christmas. All of their ‘failures’ turned to advantage.