“Suppose the foot says, ‘I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.’ By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. And suppose the ear says,
‘I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.’
By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear?
If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. If all the parts were the same,
how could there be a body?”
I Corinthians 12:15-17
Diversity of Expression
Most of the real lessons of life, nature can teach us if we just pay attention. Celebrating uniqueness is certainly one of those messages.
In nature, animals are uniquely different and that uniqueness gives them a distinct advantage in their respective environment. Have you ever seen an eagle trying to run, or an ostrich fly? The dolphin is comfortable in the water, but don’t ask it to roam the savanna or a lion to swim the Atlantic. In the woods, deer have a keen sense of smell, while turkeys possess extraordinary sight. Both serve as a vital defense mechanism.
This diversity of expression is equally true in humans. Though most people tend to notice and focus on external qualities like color, height, accent, etc., if you pay attention, the real diversity is as distinct and apparent in people as it is in the animal kingdom. Some are meticulous and precise while others are carefree and spontaneous. Some enjoy leading the way; others enjoy supporting behind the scenes. Just as externally there are no two humans the same, except in the genetic marvel of identical twins; the internal wiring of humans is vastly more irreplaceable and complex than the external uniqueness.
This is why society pushes for conformity: it makes things easier if we can get people to fit perfectly into a box. In reality, there is no one box for two people. The trick is learning how to communicate in spite of our differences.
The key to diversity of expression is acceptance and respect. Tolerance is the ability to hear and respect another’s position while not necessarily being swayed to change your position.
By valuing and affirming the differences in people, we give opportunity for everyone in an organization to have a significant place and to make a significant contribution.
We agree on one thing ultimately – diversity of expression does not mean freedom of speech at someone else’s expense. Diversity of expression is respecting and accepting someone’s communication about a topic or their position. So where does the problem arise? In the most recent presidential election, polls were all over the place and nobody agreed on anything. Except that 86 percent of Americans agreed they were angry.
CBS’s “60 Minutes” actually did a wonderful piece on this topic a couple of weeks prior to the election. They literally put a group of people in a room and started asking questions of the group and within just minutes the discussion got so heated they had to stop the conversation.
We as people of the free world agreed on one thing – we were angry. Like the old TV show “Lost in Space” –the robot warned, “DANGER, DANGER Will Robinson!”
When communication is seeded with anger or hatred, nothing good will ever come from it. Yet, we see it every day being demonstrated on our streets, on TV shows and by our so-called leadership. The rhetoric is laced with anger and hatred.
There is no listening ability once communication turns to anger. Once an individual’s ego is too close to their position, anger is how they think they will make their point.. This communication always leads to destruction and the damage is never limited to the participants – there is collateral damage from this interaction every time.
They say miners have to sift through tons and tons of dirt to find an ounce of gold. But they are willing to sift, because the gold is there. We have to view people the same way. Yes, there is always dirt, human foibles and inconsistencies, which you’ll inevitably find if that is what you are looking for. But the gold is there also, waiting to be discovered and celebrated. It takes work to find it and now we know why there is so much anger – it is easier.
Sam Pak, CEO of Appliance Direct on “Dogs Don’t Bark at Parked Cars” and the value of Diversity of Expression:
“Building and scaling your own business is the hardest job you’ll ever love. To succeed you must be a lifelong learner, adapting to a rapidly changing market, while developing the people skills enabling you to lead and interface with every conceivable type of person. “Dogs Don’t Bark At Parked Cars” is one of the best books I’ve found on how to do both, and there aren’t two better examples of this than Eric and Jeff.”
Jeff Piersall, a former award-winning collegiate basketball coach, is the CEO & Founder of SCB Marketing, an innovative content marketing company that inspires brands to higher levels of success by elevating trust and connecting brands with key people of influence. Jeff is a successful entrepreneur, business consultant, speaker and co-author of “Dogs Don’t Bark at Parked Cars.”