My friend Anne’s daughter is embarking on the rite of passage known as Girl Scouts. She has inherited the craft and culinary skills from her mother, and now it’s time to test her sales skills with the annual Girl Scout cookie drive. The good news is that those darn cookies sell themselves. Our family orders at least six boxes; three Thin Mints, three Tagalongs. Emily is off to a roaring start after just one sales call. But wait a minute! The troop leader is capping each girl’s cookie sales at thirty boxes. That’s right, I’m not talking minimums and quotas, I’m talking no girl is allowed to sell even one more box over thirty. If I didn’t have proof of the veracity of this story, I would never believe it. It simply sounds too cliché of the trophy-distributing, helicoptering, let’s-create-legislation-to-promote-fairness-for-every-aspect-of-our-children’s-lives, parenting.
Apparently the ambitious Girl Scouts that sell hundreds of boxes make the other girl scouts feel bad. Never mind that the legendary Girl Scout Cookie drive is the most important revenue-generating fundraiser. Forget that Girl Scouting is designed to form young women into self-starting, independent young women that are “always prepared.” I’m interpreting the “always prepared” motto as preparing young women for the real world, not the pretend world of let’s protect our children from getting their feelings hurt.
Fast forward fifteen years when these former Girl Scouts are out in the real world, working at The Mediocrity Corporation. I can imagine the sales meeting now. “Olivia, do you realize you sold more than your quota this quarter, thereby embarrassing your colleagues, and hurting their self-esteem?! We’ve decided to spread your sales around to the rest of the team, and your commissions as well. Please don’t let this happen again. At our company, we strive to keep all employees on equal ground, on the lowest possible playing field. It helps moral. We realize a year from now, this company won’t exist anymore because of dismal sales, but golly darn it, our sales force can hold their heads high, knowing they didn’t try very hard…”