This week I had the privilege of meeting a woman who has battled the forces of judgment and sadness with grace. She also has translated the difficulties of her life into beautiful art. The journey of integrity is often a very lonely road. Principles are expensive; financially, psychologically and physically.
During our conversation, I was reminded how easy it is to judge others. Often, we’re not conscious of our negative feelings; we don’t deliberately set out to be judgmental or cruel. It’s just that these OTHER people…
— look different from us – It’s no longer just someone’s skin color – now we judge them because they wear a hijab or a turban
— don’t share our ‘values’ or religion. Religions are full of judgements. If someone ‘shares’ our religion we automatically assume they are ok. But the mafia killed people regularly and were ‘good’ Catholics. Just because someone is a different religion than yours, doesn’t automatically make them good or bad. People need to be judged on the content of their character. Hmm… where did we hear that before?
— have different life or work experiences. Maybe they worked only in start-ups or only in one company. Does this make their opinion or their input any less worthy?
It’s much easier to think that these ‘strange’ people are wrong or misguided than try to understand where they are coming from.
Even worse, these ‘different people’ threaten the safety of our ‘little world.’
As the world becomes more connected and collaboration becomes the norm for innovation and customer management (along with most other business functions) we need to closely examine our definition of who’s okay in the world. And it begins with our our private lives. Teach your children well – they learn by what you do, but they are tremendously affected by what you say.
I recommend that we actively seek out diversity in our friends and colleagues. Have lunch with someone who is 30 years your junior/senior. Seek out the people at your organization who are different. Talk to them, learn about what’s important to them. You will be richer for the effort and your organization will reap the benefits for years to come.
Photo credit : Joan of Arc