Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Dealing With The Square Peg

State of the art planes were plummeting out of the sky. And people lost their lives.

The military brass wanted answers.

Engineers feverishly checked the wrecks, but no defects were found. The aeroplane manufacturers and its mechanics saved face.

As the engineers let out a sigh of relief, all eyes turned to the pilots.

Without any mechanical flaws to point to, the aviators took the blame.

But the pilots knew better: their piloting skills were not the problem.

Turns out it was the cockpit.

For over 30 years, the seat, the distance to the pedals, the size of the windshield and every other conceivable doohickey was shaped to fit the average 1926 pilot.

Change the cockpit to accommodate today’s flyboys and girls and the problem is solved.

A 23-year-old researcher had his doubts. But he was in no position to protest and did as his superiors told him: measure over 4.000 pilots and do the math to find the new average pilot.

But the junior analyst went one step further. Before he handed in his assignment to his boss, he compared each individual pilot to his newly found average.

His discovery was stunning, not one air jockey fit the average. For three decades the Air Force was designing pilots for a person that didn’t exist.

The subordinate’s shattering of the myth of average led to the invention of the adjustable seat.

A great triumph for the individual over the system.

You’d think the idea that people ought to fit the system died together with the luckless pilots of the 50s.

Yet the idea that people inconvenience systems still reigns supreme.

If a customer asks the waiter to prepare a special nut-free meal, the chef gets upset. But if the customer takes a bite of pecan tainted food, her throat closes shut.

Whenever a student asks the teacher for more time on the test because she’s dyslexic, other kids think she’s being a drama queen. But she sees letters dancing across the page.

When a gifted kid is bad at reading and can’t pay attention in science class, the teacher assumes he’s dumb. But to him class is an insurmountable reading test.

No one is average, let’s act like it.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach