Gender. Age. Geography. Education. There are so many variables that make us who we are, and how we view the world (and our place in it). This isn’t about figuring out if one way is right and another wrong. Culture is too busy doing that nasty work. No, this is about leveraging the power of perspective by understanding the power in our differences.
Safety In The Space
Nastiness is the order of the day because there are no safe spaces. Where do you feel safe to say exactly what you want? Where do you feel safe to express exactly how you feel?
Spaces aren’t safe because people aren’t listening. They’re not paying attention to anything other than headlines, which are mostly click-bait and often bold lies designed to deceive. Culture is fueled by our collective desire to spew venom from our mobile or computer keyboard. Anonymously.
Spaces aren’t safe because people aren’t open to understanding. It’s not so much a matter of being open to being converted to another point-of-view, it’s being open to just understand another point-of-view. Mostly, we don’t even care why people think or feel the way they do. We’re looking to render judgment in a nanosecond.
None of this is profitable in helping us grow and expand our business.
None of this is helpful as we pursue our own leadership growth.
None of this makes our lives better!
Understanding A Different Viewpoint Can Help Me
It’s not about changing your mind. This isn’t about converting you from one position to a different position.
It’s about expanding your mind so you can learn to understand how others can see things in a different way. Honestly, it’s about value to YOU.
Sure, it’s respectful and that’s helpful, but that’s not really the reason I’d urge you to consider surrounding yourself with people different from you. It’s because they will bring you the most value, provided the space is safe.
Let me paint a picture that’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
You’re sitting with other entrepreneurs. There are men, women, young, old, grizzled veterans, newbies, northerners, southerners, easterners, westerners, highly educated, barely educated…it’s a very diverse group of people. Yet, in spite of all these differences, it’s a judgment-free zone. Nobody is allowed to be disrespectful or to express judgment by being combative. Everybody is free to fully express themselves. But everybody is also free to ask questions, but the questions must be aimed at trying to better understand. Not to fight, or argue, but to really understand what the person is saying. To make sure everybody gets it correctly.
That alone is expansive because it’s ridiculously unique. Such places don’t ordinarily exist.
For starters, we don’t organically find ourselves in such groups. Mostly, we find ourselves surrounded by people just like us. People who think like us, feel like us and agree with us. It’s comfortable. Often fun. It’s just not always profitable because we’re rarely pushed or challenged in positive ways by such groups. We’re there because it feels right, not because it’s profitable.
Additionally, we’re organically in such groups because it’s safe to express thoughts and feelings we know are shared by the group. We know nobody is going to disagree so we’re free to say whatever we please. It’s doesn’t provide us any opportunity to justify or explain how we feel or what we think though. Because nobody asks. They just nod in agreement. Lost is the debate that can foster growth or creativity or innovation.
Kindness. Gentleness. Safety.
Those are key, but something else is important.
Challenge. Disagreement. Alternative Viewpoints.
The dilemma is how to combine those. How can kindness, gentleness, safety be positively combined with challenge, disagreement, and alternative viewpoints?
The answer? When everybody is intent on one united goal, GROWTH. When every person sitting at the table is intentional in growing their business, their leadership and their lives, then it changes the game entirely. Because there is one central objective required and everybody knows it.
Understanding Fuels Growth
The power in the differences isn’t in venomous debate. It’s not in hatred. It’s not in railing back and forth at each other. It’s not in trying to decide who is right and who is wrong.
It’s in understanding.
A CEO business owner is considering buying another business. He has his reasons. He explains those reasons to the group. The group – individually and collectively – wants to better understand why he wants to make this acquisition. Some may have a knee-jerk reaction or judgment about it, but nobody displays that. Nobody’s questions belie any judgment.
Questions abound as the people attempt to understand where this CEO is coming from, and where he most wants to go. These questions, fueled largely by people who may have a different viewpoint, help everybody understand better. Mostly, they help the CEO business owner considering this important move. He’s faced with questions he’s never considered before. The process alone is expanding his mind on this potential move.
As the conversation unfolds and the CEO answers the questions, sometimes stumbling because he’s not considered some of these questions – he has no answers for some of them – the conversation turns toward the big question, “What do you want to do?” As he considers what he most wants to accomplish more questions come as the group works to continue to understand what this CEO wants in his business and his life. It’s not about what they want, but rather about what he wants. They know their role is to help him get what he wants. But they all know that what they signed up for is GROWTH. Everybody in the room wants to get better, and they’re committed to helping each other get better.
Absent from the conversation are all the usual language bombs. Nobody has said, “I’ll tell you what you should do.” Or, “I’ll tell you what you shouldn’t do.” Or, “Why in the world would you want to do that?” Or, “You’re crazy, that’ll never work.”
Ask the CEO business owner. He’ll tell you. From his perspective it feels like…he can only think of one term for it, even though he admits he’s never been in one before, but it’s as he imagines. It’s like being in a THINK TANK, he says. A place where we’re just working together to think it through. Where every idea, question, thought and feeling are valid. Where nobody is making fun of any of it because everybody understands the power of the process of learning is UNDERSTANDING.
And everybody knows without the differences, none of this positive friction exists. None of these good ideas get to bubble up to the surface. None of this creative challenging happens. Remove the differences and it’s just a tank of people who agree with each other.
Now you may better understand the power in our differences as people.
Who you surround yourself with matters.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!