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Snobbery, Arrogance, and the Tall Poppy Syndrome

Have you ever heard of the Tall Poppy Syndrome?  The term is used mostly outside the U.S., primarily in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.  The term is derogatory in nature and refers to “cutting down” people who have higher social, economic, or political status.  The reference dates back first to Livy’s (59 BCE) History of Rome, Book I which recounts the story of a Roman King symbolically sweeping a stick through his garden to chop off the heads of the tallest poppies growing in the garden.  This was to symbolize a society that was leery of people who are deserving of genuine merit and positive attention.   In other words, do not stand above the crowd!

The syndrome is common in a working-class ethos.  It is a social-leveling attitude that supports a fair distribution of income and wealth and is most common in a unionized labor country.  Progressing beliefs and principles are allowing the removal of a good amount of the Tall Poppy Syndrome because the “ tall poppy thinking” is now widely viewed as an obstacle to success and wealth creation.

Criticizing such thinking, Benjamin Franklin Fairless said,

“You cannot strengthen one by weakening another; and you cannot add to the stature of a dwarf by cutting off the leg of a giant.”

How does this relate to your company?   It looks like the more things change; the more they stay the same.   Attitudes and behavior in ancient times are still prevalent today.   Let us help you with your executive coaching or employee development needs.   Call us at 901-757-4434 for more information

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Judy W Bell

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