A favorite saying of mine is “If we all were the same, the world would be a boring place.” I believe this to be true. Some people are more comfortable with people just like themselves. I do not understand that because I believe diversity breeds innovation and opportunity and makes the world more interesting. It also can mean so many different things.
This comes into focus when you are in a group setting. It can be a team meeting at work, a non-profit board, or any other group setting. Having people with different backgrounds and experiences makes any group function better.
I always think of this when I listen to someone with a marketing or advertising background. Their ideas come to them easily and make so much sense, but my brain does not work like theirs and I would never come up with the cool and creative ideas they do.
Many of you are thinking of diversity as a team with people from different racial or religious backgrounds. That is diversity and can bring different ideas and angles to a situation for sure. But how about people who grew up in different states, have different educational background, or more or less professional experience. The world of differences is seemingly endless if you really think about it.
How you approach an issue or opportunity may be different between someone who grew up on a farm in the Midwest versus New York City, or someone with an engineering degree versus someone with a sociology degree, let alone no degree or college level education, or, in my world, an attorney with 25 years’ experience versus someone with 5 years’ experience. The differences can be limitless, but they matter and make for better teams.
If any of the terms or descriptors I used above describe you, your background, or your experience level, it is your individuality that makes you stand out to others. It also is your creativity and the ability to think differently than others. If we all just fell into line with people just like us for the next corporate job or role where would innovation come from?
The point is to be open to ideas from others approaching the same situation differently than you. Listening well and thinking through ideas you never would have thought of will broaden your world and provide a better chance of success for whatever group you are in. Try it and see where things go.