Learn how to create value from difference

Sent about 2 months ago
2 min read

Hey {{ subscriber.first_name | strip | default: "there" }},

"I don't think I'll ever be able to do what Michael does."

Ben, a colleague, who had been with my company for just about a year, was sharing some frustration.

He was comparing himself to someone who was excellent at their craft. And he couldn't see himself ever performing like that. It was making him question his future with us.

My first reaction was to break down what Michael was doing and offer encouragement -- of course he could learn to do those things and consult more like Michael!

But then I had a very strong realization.

The goal shouldn't be to consult like Michael. How Michael did things was undeniably awesome, BUT it was not the model of how we wanted all our consultants to be.

Ben needed to understand his unique way of seeing the world, his unique expertise and how he collaborates with clients.

It wasn't about similarity of style. It was about finding HIS way of bringing value to clients.

Of course, this applies to you and your colleagues. It may sound corny, but you need to become the kind of professional you can uniquely become.

Organizations make this mistake over and over. The industrial model of organizations has a bias towards similarity and repeatability. We think we can define not only the role but the kind of person that fits a role in our organization.

But it leaves out the most important part of peoples' success at work -- their unique experience, style and ways of interacting with others.

Your lived experience is unique and valuable. This gives you an abundance of stories to draw upon today.

Your technical expertise is unique. Ben was a hard disk drive engineer. He had an understanding of physics, engineering, manufacturing, tech history and many others that held powerful lessons for our projects.

Your hobbies or passions bring unique talents and perspective. One of our colleagues wove with a full size loom in her apartment. Another had authored, drawn and published numerous comic books. Another built electronic music and sound sculptures.

Each of those bring unique ways of seeing current situations, useful principles and analogies.

Ways of seeing, principles and analogies are the fuel of more creative problem solving.

People also have unique looks, behaviors and characteristic social interaction - enthusiastic, dead pan, quirky or quiet. Excited, curious, certain, and nervous.

Are you still worried that how you are, how you look, talk and laugh are "not what a professional" is like?

Worse, do worry about others' characteristics?

Stop it and embrace them! See how they bring life, a different energy and diversity to the world. Think I'm just cheerleading?

Just look at the infinite variety of people whose uniqueness is a core part of their success. They've embraced how they are and use it to their advantage.

Sure, you'll look at one artist, comedienne or leader and think, "I don't understand how they are successful." But they have hundreds or thousands of others with whom they do resonate.

So as a leader or team builder in an organization, embrace, encourage and coach people to bring their full authentic self to work.

I'm sure you can recall a supervisor, coach or maybe a teacher who had a knack for bringing the best out of you and others.

Do you realize how valuable such an ability is to organizations?

A final reason I'll mention for noticing and embracing people's uniqueness is that it is highly rewarding. It creates joy. It builds relationships. It is fun. You learn a lot -- not only about the people themselves, but all about the world that they know about.

How are you taking advantage of your unique experience and way of being? Who might you notice next and let them know how interesting or valuable you think their way of being is?

Let me know. Hit that reply and share how you see uniqueness creating value!


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