The Reward is in the Eye of the Beholder – The Un-Comfort Zone

THE UN-COMFORT ZONE with Robert Wilson

In the early 1970s I was a young teenager who was completely caught up in the Zeitgeist. I admired the long-haired rebels and radicals who were engaged in protesting the establishment and developing the counter-culture. I didn’t really know what any of that meant, but to me it was all about empowering youth and declaring our independence from the adults. My parents in particular.

As with any normal teenager, I was trying to grow up as fast as I could. And, because it annoyed my parents, wearing my hair long was its perfect expression. That, and it was de rigueur among all the teenagers who wanted to be cool. So, the longer the better – or in the immortal words from the title song to the 1968 Broadway Musical HAIR, “Oh, say can you see, My eyes if you can… Then my hair’s too short!”

It drove my parents completely crazy. They could not understand why any male would want to wear long hair. We fought about it all the time.

Meanwhile, I was in my first year of high school and the transition to a new school was causing my grades to drop dramatically. My parents saw an advantage, and the law was laid down: keep my grades above a certain minimum or cut my hair. It worked. I brought home a dismal report card, and it was off to the barber shop. Not surprisingly, my next report card met the minimum.

The formula is simple: if you can find out what is valuable to someone, then you have the key to motivating them. For me, at age 13, the length of my hair became the coin of the realm.

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Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators. For more information on Robert’s programs please visit

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