After spending the first week of June at partner meetings and the Annual European Human Element Update at the beautiful Manoir Des Brumes I am refreshed and inspired by the strength of our community. It is not every day that we reconnect deeply with people working on the same issue as ourselves and struggling with similar challenges.
As always, I come away from the experience driven and motivated to continue my own practice and collaborate with others in creating possibilities for healthier work cultures, leadership and work practices. But this time, I also take with me the awareness of what sameness and diversity can do for groups like ours, communities of every sort and society in general.
As we speak of us and others, of the members of this contingent or the next, of all of us, we hold in our minds and hearts increasing measures of distinctions that put us together or apart. Both, I believe, are necessary to make a difference: understanding your uniqueness and who you can count on to go shoulder to shoulder with you and embracing diversity as a way to challenge your ideas, reach more people, learn from perspectives that you would never even dream of. You can find this in an international, yearly event such as the one I just attended, or a lot closer to home in your everyday work community. To increase your awareness of this, consider:
Who are they?
When you talk as a matter of fact to your colleagues, notice what “they”s are obvious to all of you. They might be the sales department members, top management, the staff, clients, suppliers. Whoever “they” are, you are more aware of your differences and distinctions than of what has the potential to bring you together. So at the end of the day, go through your “they” list. Find 3 similarities or common ground with each and you may very well be on the way to exploring possibilities you hadn’t considered.
Now, on to the us.
Who are “we”?
Notice as your day goes by who you interact with. Who you call “us” or “we”. It may be your staff, your team, the company members, the family, people of your gender or race. The same issues that make you feel akin to some will separate you from others. Make sure that you make a conscious choice to be among those who think as you, walk as you, talk as you and that you also expose yourself to the possibility that you may, collectively, be blind and oblivious to some possibilities beyond your circle. Stretch the boundaries. Bring new thought in, express yourselves respectfully to other groups.
On the plane ride there I was reading the sweet Have a Little Faith, by Mitch Albom. There’s a part of the book where Mitch is wondering whether accepting someone’s blessing in the name of a “different” God is right. He asks the Rabbi what he would say to a Christian or a Muslim that says “God bless you.”. The answer is easy to him. Thanks and God bless you too. What else? Simple. Congruent. All-encompassing.