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- I Simple Thing: Explore the differences that really make a difference, then focus on resolving them.
It may just be the irrationality of the US political season; however I do think Difference is a question we continually ask ourselves, whether to reinforce or do away with “Us vs. Them” thinking. I also believe it has been particularly deadly of late – as if there were something else going on. (Pay no attention to the current endless stream of melodramatic, barely-factual political ads currently running ad nauseam!)
If we take two steps back, we will notice changing patterns of thought, action and decision-making. We often hear about the pendulum swinging back and forth. Another way of putting it is this: as systems shift and react to myriad internal and external influences, it takes time for the system to self-organize once more. I believe each of us has the ability to influence the world, and that may be our call to action. Do something different and change the patterns for ourselves.
In my mind, the notion of Difference has the underlying disquiet of ‘So What?’
Because you are _______ (fill in the blank) and different, what are the implications for me and the world as I know/understand/like it? One response for me, personally and professionally, then is the following. Between and among us, there are zillions of differences, e.g. home town, education, values, lifestyle, favorite ice cream flavor, sports team, etc. Of course there are differences and always will be.
The real question then becomes, What are the DIFFERENCES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Because you and I sound different, look different, and celebrate different events, does that mean we cannot work together, live in the same neighborhood, sit next to each other on the commuter train and have a lively conversation and exchange of ideas?
How about exploring those differences that really make a difference and focusing on resolving them. If we can get back to the basics of who we are, what is important to us, and how we want to connect with others, we may be able to clear some common ground for progress.
- 1 Simple Thing: Believe in Yourself
The Final Exam
A professor stood before her class of 20 senior organic biology students, about to hand out the final exam.
“I want to say that it’s been a pleasure teaching you this semester,” she said. “I know you’ve all worked extremely hard and many of you are off to medical school after summer. So that no one gets their GP messed up because they might have been celebrating a bit too much this week, anyone who would like to opt out of the final exam today will receive a “B” for the course.”
There was much rejoicing amongst the class as students got up, passed by the professor to thank her and sign out on her offer. As the last taker left the room, the professor looked out over the handful of remaining students and asked, “Any one else? This is your last chance.”
One final student rose up and took the offer. The professor closed the door and took attendance of those students remaining.
*This is a story I have heard/read in a variety of forms and places; the original source is unknown to me. I chose it because it is a wonderful example of this 1 Simple Thing: Believe in Yourself.