In Minor Ways We Differ, In Major We’re the Same

August 1, 2012

Diversity enriches my world. I love being surrounded by people who bring different, more colorful perspectives to life.

In kindergarten, I liked going to art class with a big box of crayons. The more colors available, the greater my options for creating a refrigerator-worthy objet d’art.

In college, I engaged in vigorous debates with professors and fellow students. My education would have been shallow and boring if everyone had thought alike.

At my work, diversity creates a stronger, more productive team. My creativity flourishes when I’m surrounded by individuals who are different than I am. I value the perspective of those who challenge me to see the world from a different vantage point.

Yet, as much as I value diversity, I also recognize its downside. Diversity can quickly divide rather than unite. Obsessing on ways we are each different can goad me into being competitive or even combative. When I concentrate only on my differences with others, I tend to become angry, bitter or even vengeful.

Diversity works best when it balances two things. First, it must prompt us to value the humanity and unique talents that each individual brings into the world. Second, it must prompt us to focus on the ways we are alike so we can build upon those things that unite us. (Wouldn’t it be nice if candidates for political office did the same during an election year?)

One of my favorite quotes comes from Maya Angelou. In her poem Human Family she says, “In minor ways we differ, in major we’re the same.

Ms. Angelou closes her poem with these beautiful words:

I note the obvious differences

between each sort and type,

but we are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.

In my personal life, I am blessed to have many friends. Each person is special and I value the diversity of age, race, faith, education, politics, socioeconomic status and even personality.

While I observe these differences, I refuse to focus on things that divide us. I prefer to look at what we share in common. Together we share the adventure of life’s great journey, although we may be at different places along the same path.

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A Manifesto for Life Success

September 15, 2010

Whenever I hear Louis Armstrong sing What a Wonderful World I feel warm all over. I am reminded that I live in a full, abundant world.

Together we all share the joys and sorrows of life’s journey, though we we may be at different places along the path. In the distance I’ve traveled, I’ve learned a few things along the way. I share the following observations for the benefit of my fellow travelers:

With a commitment to living my life according to God’s plan, I believe that:

  1. Everything happens for a reason.
  2. Meaning and purpose can always be found in the midst of chaos.
  3. Knowing some of the questions is better than having all of the answers.
  4. Every thought, every choice and every action has consequences.
  5. What one focuses upon in life expands.
  6. We live in a world of abundance where there is enough for everyone.
  7. In a win-lose situation, there are usually no winners.
  8. Diversity divides when we focus only on our differences, but it enriches when we build on things we share in common.
  9. Life only makes sense when viewed from an eternal perspective.
  10. No matter how good the “good old days” may seem, our best days are yet to come.

A Manifesto for Team Performance

September 8, 2010

To achieve success, members of any marketing team must be united by a compelling vision and a shared set of beliefs.

With a commitment to teamwork, I invite you to join me in believing and internalizing the following affirmations:

  1. We are inspired by the mission of our team.
  2. As we visualize the role of marketing within the organization, we are proud to be a part of an exceptional consulting team working on projects that really matter.
  3. We value diversity within our group, knowing that each of us makes a unique contribution.
  4. We build synergy whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In so doing, we recognize the interdependence of every member of the team.
  5. When the spotlight is on one of us individually, we appreciate and acknowledge the contributions made by our teammates, knowing that success is usually a team effort.
  6. We celebrate when another member of the team excels. After all, we know that one teammate’s success reflects positively on the entire group.
  7. When something goes wrong, we avoid pointing fingers and assigning blame. Instead, we join hands to seek solutions and to look for the learning embedded within the situation.
  8. We assume positive intentions on the part of others. In circumstances where there is a potential for misunderstanding, we proactively seek clarification.
  9. We are loyal to other members of the team, especially in their absence. We focus on the positive, affirming attributes of co-workers and teammates.
  10. We always operate from an abundance mentality that seeks win-win solutions. We refuse to believe that our win implies a loss for someone else, knowing that a scarcity mentality spawns fear, competitiveness and retaliation.

 

 


Marketing Manifesto II – Team Performance

October 1, 2009

Shortly after I stepped into my leadership role at the American Red Cross, a member of my marketing group chose not to be part of the new team.

Her departure gave me the opportunity to recruit someone new, so I spent considerable time thinking about how to forge a strong partnership between 1) the individuals I inherited and 2) those I would select myself.

In consultation with team members that remained, I developed this list of 10 characteristics to describe the commitment, the loyalty and the engagement of every contributing member of my marketing group:

  1. We are inspired by the mission of the marketing department, knowing that our special group exists to ensure the success of the American Red Cross.
  2. As we visualize the role of marketing within the organization, we are proud to be a part of an exceptional consulting team working on projects that really matter.
  3. We value diversity within our team, knowing that each of us makes a unique contribution to the department, to the organization and ultimately to the community.
  4. We build synergy whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In so doing, we recognize the interdependence of every member of the team.
  5. When one of us succeeds, that person appreciates and acknowledges the contributions of teammates, knowing that success is often a team effort.
  6. We celebrate when another member of the team excels. After all, we know that one teammate’s success reflects positively on our entire group.
  7. When something goes wrong, we avoid pointing fingers and assigning blame. Instead, we join hands with others to seek solutions and to look for the learning embedded within the situation.
  8. We assume positive intentions on the part of others. In circumstances where there is a potential for misunderstanding, we proactively seek clarification.
  9. We are loyal to other members of the team, especially in their absence. We focus on the positive, affirming attributes of our co-workers and teammates.
  10. We always operate from an abundance mentality that seeks win-win solutions. We refuse to believe that our win implies a loss for someone else, knowing that a scarcity mentality spawns fear, competitiveness and retaliation.

10 Things I’ve Learned about Life

August 18, 2009

One of my favorite songs is Louis Armstrong’s rendition of What a Wonderful World. It reminds me that our time in this world can be a wonderful adventure, especially if we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Together we share life’s journey, though we may be at different places along the path. I’ve traveled quite a few miles, and though I’m no philosopher, I’ve learned a few things along the way. For the benefit of my fellow travelers, I share the following observations:

  1. Everything happens for a reason.
  2. Meaning and purpose can always be found in the midst of chaos.
  3. Knowing some of the questions is better than having all of the answers.
  4. Every thought, every choice and every action has consequences.
  5. What one focuses upon in life expands.
  6. We live in a world of abundance where there’s enough for everyone.
  7. In a win-lose situation, there are usually no winners.
  8. Diversity divides when we only focus on differences, but it enriches when we build on those things we share in common.
  9. No matter how good the “good old days” may have seemed, we’ve got to believe that our best days are yet to come.
  10. Life only makes sense when viewed from an eternal perspective.

Okay, that’s my initial list. What do you think? I’d like to hear what you’ve learned from your own, unique journey.


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