Way back in the early seventies, there was much talk about diversity – gender, race, ethnicity, vertically challenged and horizontally challenged people for that matter. Today the list grows longer – smokers and non smokers, well mannered mobile phone users and yahoos who leave their mobile phones on in cinemas and in my workshops! So people are different, end of story! Or is it the beginning really?
For me, differences are always a beginning. Every morning, when I wake up, I start to manage differences. Especially in Melbourne. The plan to cycle and swim from last night changed drastically this morning when I heard the weather even before opening my eyes. Wind howling, rain pelting against my windows and the sun gone on holiday. So managing Melbourne’s difference in weather means, no bike and no swim, but writing this editorial instead. It also meant managing my own attitude. I believe that managing differences requires a certain attitude. That is the challenge. What is this attitude? I guess it is an open and trusting one. Being open to the universe and trusting that whatever the weather will be, the outcome will be the same – gratitude and joy. To be grateful for yet another day whatever the weather – to be able to do this results in joy, a tingling in the body, a sizzling of the soul.
Managing the differences diversities in body shapes is another awesome challenge if you travel in planes as much as I do. The chairs are all the same but the bodies in them are so different. I have sat next to bodies that fill out the whole chair and half of mine. I have sat next to bodies that smell of cigarettes or cigars. And beer. I have sat next to tiny bodies that are being suckled at their mothers’ breasts. In between mouthfuls of milk, these little bodies, somehow manage to emit screams that are louder than mine. In short, I have known different bodies in my travels. And they are trials and tribulations sent to grow me, especially from Melbourne to LA.
Managing differences in the bedroom or boardroom is another challenge. It requires the same attitude in order for you to make a difference. An open attitude of trust is based on information and knowledge of differences – the whys and wherefores of the other person’s difference. However, equally importantly, you need to know the why’s and wherefore’s of how you are different from the other person. In a global world, every situation is filled with “foreigners”. They are different in ethnic background, age, gender, etc. so how do we manage the differences and here are some tips:
*Manage your own Self – by knowing yourself, both the conscious and unconscious bits of you.
*Manage the other person’s differences – first tackle the obvious difference, ie their accent, their rate of speaking and their way of listening. Then you manage their not-so-obvious differences, that is, their psyche and their unconscious culture.
Finally, I urge you not to walk away from the challenge of someone who is totally different from you. Or a situation that is totally different from what you are used to. Let me finish with a little story. Many men and women tell me that they are looking for a soul mate, someone to share a life with – they walk around looking in supermarkets, in parking lots, dance halls, parties, pubs, and the Internet. They all have a list of criteria for whom they are looking for and when I examine these criteria, they are often a reflection of their own – same attitude about money, time, pleasures. In short, the other body must match their own. Remember that opposites do attract and when the dance is over, you need diversity to be creative.