Monday 17th December 18:24

"The Flowers of Spring and the Richness of Life"

MTL Newsletter April 8th 2012

Hi everyone,

In one of his newsletters, management writer James Adonis has a picture of a crowd of people dressed in white pointed hoods and asks us who they are. For most people, they are the Ku Klux Klan, the anti-racist sect of the southern United States, famous for their association with segregation between Negroes and Whites. In fact, the picture is not of the Ku Klux Klan. It is an image of penitent Spaniards who wear a white hooded headpiece in the Christian Holy Week to confess their sins and hide their humility.

For James Adonis, the image shows how easy it is to confuse reality with perceptions, the fear that is at the heart of our problems with diversity. Instead of keeping open minds and hearts about others, we draw conclusions about them from what we see, whether it's the colour of someone's skin, their age, their physical shape, or their behaviour. At some deep level, none of us likes the new, the different, and the unusual because we think it will threaten us and change us in ways that we don't want. We much prefer to stay with what is familiar, what we're used to, or what is like us. That way life seems safer, more comfortable and less of an effort.

But staying the same, seeking the same, and being with the same is not the way life works and it isn't the way the creative life at work works.

This time of year is a reminder that, after the drab sameness of winter, there is always a new flowering of diversity and creativity in spring. Of all the quotes that express how basic diversity is to life and work, one of the most inspiring is the following from Gene Griessman which is called "On Diversity". It is the most wonderful creed to take any of us through life and work.

"I believe that diversity is a part of the natural order of things—as natural as the trillion shapes and shades of the flowers of spring or the leaves of autumn. I believe that diversity brings new solutions to an ever-changing environment, and that sameness is not only uninteresting but limiting.

To deny diversity is to deny life—with all its richness and manifold opportunities. Thus, I affirm my citizenship in a world of diversity, and with it the responsibility to...

• Be tolerant. Live and let live. Understand that those who cause no harm should not be feared, ridiculed, or harmed—even if they are different.

• Look for the best in others.

• Be just in my dealings with poor and rich, weak and strong, and whenever possible to defend the young, the old, the frail, the defenseless.

• Avoid needless conflicts and diversions, but be always willing to change for the better that which can be changed.

• Seek knowledge in order to know what can be changed, as well as what cannot be changed.

• Forge alliances with others who love liberty and justice.

• Be kind, remembering how fragile the human spirit is.

• Live the examined life, subjecting my motives and actions to the scrutiny of mind and heart so to rise above prejudice and hatred.

• Care."

Most people at work find the subject of diversity boring. Those of us who are trainers and coaches find it the one course that people have to be dragged to. But diversity isn't about political correctness or meeting quotas or creating level playing fields. It's really just about the richness and wonder of life.

Happy Easter and happy Springtime!

Eric

(c) ManageTrainLearn 2012