The Different Levels of Wrongness!

First published exactly 2 years and some current worldwide event reminded me of it. Anybody seen any Olympic style wrongness? No second chance for breaking a start early must be devastating? 

The Different Levels of Wrongness!


Mahiedine Mehkissi-Benabbad thought he was winning a 3,000m steeplechase at the European athletics championships but instead he was slugged with a red card and stripped of his gold for taking his shirt off! Mahiedine at first was given a yellow card as a warning but a protest ensued and the red card was then issued.

Why you might ask?

He contravened rule 143.8 of the International Association of Athletics Federations, “bibs may not be obscured in any way.”

So not only was Mahiedine wrong he was very wrong! Or was that deeply wrong. However you look at it he was ‘wronger’ than wrong and was punished for it.

Why was he punished? Why was the rule made in the first place? It is said that the rule was introduced to ensure that all athletes could be identified at all times during the race. Was he punished because he broke the rule? Was he punished because he appeared to be ‘big noting’ himself? This could be questioned when he initially received a warning, yellow card, but was then issued a red card because he was ‘wronger’ than wrong!

He wasn’t punished for breaking a rule he was punished for being human!

Here is a man stripped of a dream and a one-time goal that he had worked damn hard to get because of a binary rule. It wasn’t about him it was about the rule! The rule is what must prevail and you my friend must obey! How is this not dehumanising.

We are so fixated on the rules that we loose sight of the bigger picture. We don’t see the achievements or more importantly the person. What he’s gone through, what he’s achieved, what he’s endured to achieve the end goal. We are so quick to judge.

Humans err, humans make mistakes and humans do ‘wrong’ things. I will leave the reason for this and human motivation for another article but we are designed to do this for many reasons. Yet we still maintain a binary world of black and white. All in the name of safety!

The language of safety these days is about caring, being safe, taking care but the discourse of safety is all about control! If I have control therefore I can have a level of certainty. What is this really about? The fear of uncertainty!

We are all so fearful of not being certain that we have a whole industry based on it!

So when we punish people for being human that is a whole other level of wrongness!! There are rules that enable us to make sense of our environment and then there are rules that disempower and dehumanise. Think about your organisational rules and how they affect your workers.


M | 0407 220 094

E | gabrielle@resilyence

W |

L |

F |

Gabrielle Carlton

Gabrielle Carlton

Director & Principal Consultant at Resylience
Gabrielle Carlton

Latest posts by Gabrielle Carlton (see all)

Gabrielle Carlton
Gabrielle Carlton is a specialist in human factors in risk and safety. Gabrielle provides training, advice, coaching and mentoring for leaders and managers. Gabrielle has well over 10 years experience as an advisor and consultant to industry as well as a strong personal background across a range of industries including: electrical generation & distribution, aged and disability in large residential facilities, construction, property management, rail, manufacturing, government bodies and corporations. Gabrielle is able to use her expertise in analysis, training, organisation psychology, research, systems auditing and human behaviour to serve a wide range of needs. She has conducted a Probability Risk Analysis (PRA) using Resylience's methodology Culture and Organisation Modelling in Risk (COMIR). This work was conducted with National power generation companies. Gabrielle has developed and delivered a range of risk and safety leadership consultancies to Tier 1 organisations in Australia.

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below