Vail Daily column: What’s the difference? |

Vail Daily column: What’s the difference?

Michael Norton
Vail, CO Colorado

A couple of Sundays ago as I was hanging around the bottom of the Centennial lift at the Beaver Creek ski area I couldn’t help but notice there was a group of about five or six guys getting ready to ski. What caught my attention was that each one of them had to be at least 6 feet 3 inches tall and a couple of them appeared to be well over 6 feet 5 inches.

Just a little while later in the same area I noticed another group of people, men and women, and I would venture to say that there wasn’t one of them that was over 5 feet 6 inches tall. Not one in the entire group, with a couple closer to 5 feet tall. Had I not seen the extremely tall group earlier, maybe this group would have simply blended in with the crowd.

I rode the lift later that day with a couple of guys on snowboards that had hair well down past the middle of their back. And on another ride up the mountain, I rode the lift with a clean-cut U.S. Marine and his bride. I started to recognize that I was having one of those days where the uniqueness and differences that make our world so very special was becoming overwhelmingly evident.

My day continued with chairlift rides accompanied by 5-year-olds as I helped a ski instructor by taking two of her ski school kids up the lift and then my very next lift ride was with a couple of folks in their 70s.

I share this with you because each person I met that day had something very interesting to share with me. We talked sports, politics, local restaurants and bars, music, and even a little history. I think the conversation that impressed me the most was the one I had with the two young snowboarders as they had some pretty cool insights and opinions about the economy and the upcoming presidential election.

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You see, diversity is what makes life fun and interesting. And each one of us deals with unique attributes of our family, friends, co-workers, employees and the strangers we have the privilege of meeting each and every day. Do we take the time to appreciate them for their individualism, honoring who they are and what they contribute, or do we find ourselves judging books by their covers and completely miss the opportunity to either learn something new or simply enjoy a differing point of view?

Take a look at the person next to you, across from you, in line at the grocery store, sitting with you in church, or just maybe even along for the ride on your next chairlift or flight, I’ll bet they might just be one of those unique people, with a cool story and a different opinion.

We have the unbelievable opportunity to be exposed to new thoughts and ideas if we would just keep our hearts and minds open to receiving the information and not being threatened by an opposing point of view. We may not agree, and we may walk away with more certainty about our own opinions and beliefs, but at least we allowed ourselves to embrace and hear a different point of view.

Maybe I was a little too comfortable and complacent regarding my own way of thinking, you know, kind of set in my ways that created a heightened awareness of the beauty in all the differences and diversity of our world. Whatever it was, I am glad it happened as it further opened my heart and mind.

How about you? I would love to hear all about how your approach to meeting and understanding people who might be just a little different, or maybe even a lot different than you, at Give it a shot, and when you do I am sure it will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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