Never Underestimate the Power of Normal

by Alli Polin on November 26, 2013

Normal is under rated - it can pack a powerful punch

This year, as my family and I celebrated our second Thanksgiving living in Australia, we decided to make a big Thanksgiving dinner and share it with some of our Australian friends and new neighbors that we’re so thankful to have met.  Of course, there is no long weekend here or a day off to cook on Thursday, so we had Thanksgiving Saturday instead.

I went all-out for the meal and the only thing missing was the Turkey (they’re not so easy to get in the Outback).  All the fattening and delicious usual suspects were on the table: potatoes, stuffing, rolls, apple pie, roasted chicken (sometimes you’ve got to make do with what you can get!), and of course, sweet potato with marshmallows on top.

Our Australian friends were so polite!  They complimented the food before they grabbed their phones to take pictures of the sweet potatoes with marshmallows to send to all of their friends.  They could not believe it and they were fascinated!  They asked if it was a usual dish in America and were curious if it’s the American equivalent of Vegemite.  I explained that I’ve only seen it eaten or served on this particular holiday but it’s a decadent once a year treat.  They both put a small amount on their plates and definitely found it… interesting.

  • What’s in it?
  • You’ve really made this before?
  • How did you do it?
  • It’s good!  It’s just so… different.

A dish that I’ve eaten on Thanksgiving since my childhood, part of my personal holiday status quo, was suddenly a novelty!  My normal was someone else’s way out there, on the edge, bizarre.  Wow.   Where else in my life do I have some sweet potato with marshmallow going on?  What about you?

Normal is the new cool.  Go ahead. Rock someone’s world with your hip, cool, normal-self (Click to Tweet)

Don’t be so quick to judge normal and push it aside. Normal to you may be powerful and new to me.  You’ve got some good stuff going on… OK, great stuff!  When you do the same things over and over, and it becomes a part of your normal, all that goodness can get lost in routine.  What happens when you take your routines and intentionally share and apply them in new places?  Voila – the power of normal, harnessed. 

Never forget: Your normal is someone else’s WOW. (Click to Tweet)

Break out and share your normal – you’ll be amazed at what  happens.


Interns come to your team with tons of book and classroom knowledge and a strong desire to learn.  Instead of only assigning them tasks, talk to them, share with them.  You’ll find an energetic, curious and engaged audience that will learn from your normal practices.  Be a leader who shares the learning. 

New Hires

Learning is a two-way street and new hires, whether they are experienced or directly from campus, probably have their own normal practices that come with them.  Be a leader who defers judgement and is open to new ways of approaching the work.

New Boss

Don’t worry that your normal way of doing business will be squashed, and instead accept that together, you can be even stronger.  Your new boss’ normal best practices meets your rock-star self?  Hello sweet potato – meet marshmallow!  Be a leader who sets the tone for success with the new boss instead of starting with a chip on your shoulder. 

New Organization

Your normal way of doing business may be really foreign in your new org but don’t dismay.  Instead of caving to the pressure to do it “just like everyone else,” be true to yourself.  Take the time to share your normal practices and fold in some from your new normal too.  Be a leader who is constantly evolving and not stuck in their world-view. 

Your Kids

When was the last time you invited your child to join you instead of coaching them from the sidelines?  That’s not how you make a bed, tie your shoes, use the microwave or any other million things that they don’t do just like you.  Get out of your armchair and invite your child to learn and engage with you, side by side to connect and amaze them with your normal wisdom-filled self.  Be a leader who invites others into a relationship with you to share your normal-know-how instead of directing from the sidelines.  

Make the Leap Action

Sometimes, the way you’ve always done it becomes fresh and unexpected when you share it with new people and new places.  How will you share some of your “sweet potato with marshmallows on top” with the world in today?  Identify just one to start and get ready to spread the love.

Soooo…. What’s your sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top that is ready to come out and create a WOW moment?

For coaching, consulting or speaking Let’s Connect!

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Chery Gegelman November 26, 2013 at 6:16 am

Alli – I love this for so many reasons!!!

1. I remember your stories from your first Thanksgiving abroad.
2. We will be celebrating here in two days with no special time off, and with friends that don’t know what a U.S. Thanksgiving is either!
3. One of the women I met here was an expat child growing up, married another expat child and they now live as expats with their children. Extended family has asked her if she thinks she will ever live a “normal” life. Her answer is always, “This is my normal.”
4. I love your emphasis that “Your normal is someone else’s WOW.”

Big hugs to you!



Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 6:48 am

Been thinking of you and your first expat Thanksgiving! It will definitely not be just like “at home” but it will be just like it’s meant to be in your home and where you are.

Your friend’s answer, “this is my normal” is so powerful. We think we know what other’s experiences should be like but truth is, we only see the world from one side of the table until someone shows us that normal is personal, not universal. We each get to own and embrace our own experience and hopefully share it in ways that matter.

Appreciate you, Chery!


Tom Rhodes November 26, 2013 at 7:15 am

Great post Alli. The side by side coaching really hit home. We can’t influence and teach from an armchair. We must be engaged to truly make a difference. Thanks for sharing. Holiday memories are never forgotten and passing them to the next generation makes the holidays even more special.


Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 8:13 am

There is definitely a huge difference between being physically present and being engaged. We have so much to share and learn when we’re willing to turn on to what’s new instead of sitting in the rut we’ve been digging without even noticing. The holidays are stressful and wonderful all at once – love that we get to choose our attitude and influence our experience.

My kids are tired of me telling them what to do and how to do it but when I invite them to join me, to do it with me, the experience changes for all of us. Love that, Tom: You can’t influence and teach from an armchair. How true!

Many thanks for sharing here!! Happy Thanksgiving!


Jon Mertz November 26, 2013 at 7:27 am


Getting out-of-the-normal is such a good thing. From interns to new people on the job, they haven’t been tainted by the “way we always do things.” Being open to a fresh perspective and embracing it with an sense toward acting on it will bring whole new ways to do things. Keeping this freshness is so vital!




Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 8:16 am

There is nothing like the power of a fresh perspective! We not only get to learn from others but see our own practices in new ways. I think that’s one of the things I love about reading other blogs like yours – you spark new ways of thinking and help me to shine a light on my normal practices and how I can shake them up to create fresh experiences.

Thanks, Jon!


Lolly Daskal November 26, 2013 at 8:24 am

Love this post.

I did not grow up celebrating Thanksgiving and I had my first thanksgiving celebration when I was 26 years old.

I will never forgot the novelty of it. The newness of everything. I remember being mesmerized by the rituals of thankfulness and blown away by the abundance of love.

I love that you bring attention to aspects of our lives that we may take for granted. Everything can be seen with fresh eyes if we look deep enough.

The brilliance of your writing lies in these words: Sometimes, the way you’ve always done it becomes fresh and unexpected when you share it with new people and new places.
Happy Turkey day to you and your family.


Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 8:39 am

Must have been a truly memorable experience, Lolly!

I loved sharing my family traditions with our new friends but even more, I loved watching our kids play and giggle together while we sat talking and sharing stories until way past their bedtimes. We were full with food and with true appreciation for the moment.

Great love and appreciation for you, Lolly! Happy Thanksgiving!


Lolly Daskal November 26, 2013 at 7:03 pm

It sounds like a charmed life and much to be grateful for.



Lalita Raman November 26, 2013 at 8:49 am

When I read this post I could not help think that one person’s adventure may be another’s person’s daily activity or even their bread and butter.

Always good to change for ourself the way we to things or think about things and test our own edge.

Your post well brings out the point that festivals can be celebrated in new ways as long as the togetherness and sharing and enjoyment is present.

Good post Alli.


Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 9:44 pm

It’s to true, Lalita! I see other people that amaze me with all they do every day and I think I could never… but they do – and it’s working for them.

Great point on testing our own edge too. The comfort zone grows when we stretch and try.

Thanks, Lalita!


Stephen Lahey November 26, 2013 at 9:15 am

So true, Alli. Having been self-employed since 2000, I find that a lot of what I consider to be mundane sales and marketing knowledge is new to people with less experience. Important to remember that sometimes the most basic info may be the most helpful.


Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 9:47 pm

No lie – I learn a TON from you. What I really appreciate is how freely you share your knowledge and experience. When we judge what others need “oh, it’s too basic, they’ll never appreciate it” – we miss out on an opportunity to make an impact because we’re so caught up with how we will look instead of how we can help.

Thank you, Steve!!


Joy Guthrie November 26, 2013 at 10:04 am

Really good post, Alli. Great reminder that everyone has not had your experiences. What’s tried and true to you may be new and amazing to someone else. The experience with the pie is interesting too. Reminds me of introducing someone to banana sandwiches (with peanut butter and mayo). The look on the face is priceless.


Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Banana with peanut butter – big yes! Mayo too? Wow. Just read Green Eggs and Ham with my son the other day.

We all have a lot of good stuff going on and when we willingly share it people may not always like it but it stretches their thinking about what’s possible too.

You rock, Joy!


Terri Klass November 26, 2013 at 11:20 am

What a “Wow” post, Alli! I have a friend who told me that “normal” is a setting on the washing machine. I love thinking of normal that way because it really is different for everyone.

Also, when I work with leaders I remind them that what is routine to them, may be totally unfamiliar and exciting to others. Just like your post said that we shouldn’t assume normal isn’t a new concept to someone else. Even in delegation, the delegatee is oftentimes enriched by a task that the delegator may feel is not as fascinating.

Thanks for sharing your Thanksgiving story- 2 down!


Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 9:51 pm

That is hysterical, Terri! Yes! We all get to be our own version of normal and instead of judging it – great things happen when we embrace who we are!

Totally with you on the delegation too. We may have done something 1000 times and could “do it in our sleep” but letting someone else step up and give it a try – even if it’s not perfect is meaningful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend!


LaRae Quy November 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Alli, that sweet potato pie with marshmellows on top brings back fond memories for me!

Loved the points you made about “normal” being someone else’s WOW. What a timely reminder to take the time to think about the exceptional qualities of our own lives…we become inured to the routine, and sometimes lulled into complacency by it.

Here is to a great Thanksgiving celebration!


Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm

It’s so easy to assume that our lives, experience and knowledge are mundane when the truth is that when we share, we see our own experience in new ways too. We all get to rock out our own version of normal 🙂

Have an AWESOME Thanksgiving, LaRae!


Ali Heathfield November 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I enjoyed this post, well written, rounded, encouraging and a great reminder that we often times forget that normal is ‘our normal’ and not necessarily normal for others. I love the way you describe getting out of the chair and sharing our experiences and would like to add that when we share out abilities, knowledge, curiosity and willingness to learn with active energy we can and will encourage others as well as learn from them as well. Thanks for sharing and I look froward to reading more in the future.


Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Ali ~

Thanks so much for sharing your insights! Big yes to sharing with enthusiasm, curiosity and passion – it invites the same in others and sets the tone for shared success. Apathy invites apathy, distance invites distance and connection invites connection…

Thanks for your comment!

~ Alli


Samantha November 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I happen to LOVE candied yams with marshmallow foo foo on top! One of my FAVORITE Thanksgiving treats. And yes, it’s the ONLY time I eat it!

I love this post Alli. It’s important because each of us face pressure EVERY SINGLE DAY to become someone other then we are. It’s like society as a whole keeps setting the bar higher and higher that we have Hollywood movie sized unrealistic expectations that only WORK….in the movies!

No, of COURSE we don’t want to be LESS then we were meant to be. yet striving to live up to being some unrealistic version of someone else’s expectations for you uncomfortable SELF isn’t the answer either.

Your recipe will do just fine! Being ourselves is the secret sauce and magical ingredient that is needed in the world. Even if it only impacts one tiny piece of it.


Alli Polin November 26, 2013 at 9:57 pm

We are enough! Right now! Today! We are all special, wonderful, unique human beings. It’s the thought that we need to be bigger, better more successful than someone else that holds us back from just being who we truly are!

Right on to the secret sauce! Celebrate and share our lives, our learning and create meaningful connections along the way. We are all on the journey of becoming ourselves – no need to mask it, run or hide.

Hope you’ll get a chance to enjoy some yams and marshmallow this week!

Appreciate you!!


Alice Chan November 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Alli, what a great post to remind us that what we haven taken for granted is really new to others. At the same time, someone new in our lives and work could really bring new perspective and remind us to look at the same life/org with fresh eyes and prevent us from slipping down the slope of jadedness. Happy Thanksgiving to you! (BTW, still haven’t quite figured out how/when posts show up on Triberr… :-))


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