Norton: We are more alike than we think, and that’s worth focusing on (column)
Doesn’t it seem like with each passing day, we are pointing out our differences and standing behind personal agendas and objectives more than ever before, maybe even standing firmer on our belief systems and principles to guard ourselves against those who just believe differently?
Companies, associations and organizations are finding themselves funding training sessions for the people on their teams so that they can learn how to get along in the face of their differences. We might call this diversity training, change management, communication skills training and a host of other learning and development topics, all of which have great subject matter intended on giving us learning objectives that will help us to succeed in a different or diverse environment.
Here’s an idea: What if we replaced diversity and different with similarity training? What if we focused our time, energy, resources and money on how similar we are, instead of how different we are?
I can already see the emails coming in, “Now wait a minute Norton, this is not cool. Our differences are what make the world go around. There are very real differences in races, religions, politics, physical appearances, belief systems and so much more. What the heck are you talking about with this ‘similarity’ business or training?”
So here is the answer. You see, with the exception of the smallest minority of people who are intended on violence and destruction, for the most part our society is filled with good, kind, loving, charitable, hard-working, upstanding, forgiving and awesome people. I have met them on airplanes, in airports, at hotels, in churches, on main streets, in classrooms, next-door neighbors, in line at grocery stores and even in traffic.
More of us want the same thing. Most of us want peace, happiness, security, love, forgiveness, encouragement, acceptance and good health. Most of us live with hope, core beliefs, a positive outlook or optimism, a forgiving heart and a heart and mind centered on justice, kindness and walking humbly with our God.
Listen, I know we have differences and diversity, and we should, of course, pay attention to those, not as a means of separating us, but as a way to bring us together. If we point out the differences and the need for diversity training, then in essence we are creating the chasm that of which we are trying to teach and come up with a solution to.
We really are more alike than we are different. I would love to see a company hire a consultant who can come in and help them harness the power of the diversity and differences through similarity training, not diversity training. I want to win, she wants to win, they want to win, we all want to win, and the majority of us want to win together in an environment filled with love, forgiveness, hope, encouragement, kindness, positivity and charity through our similarities, not our differences.
How about you? Are you focused on how we are different or how we are more alike than we thought or that society gives us credit for? As always, I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can leverage our similarities instead of our differences, it really will be a better-than-good week for all of us.
Michael Norton is the president of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.