These are the skills you need to sharpen!
“It was the best of times it was the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens in his work “A Tale of Two Cities.”
Dickens was writing about the French Revolution which was over two hundred years ago, but those words could apply to the world in 2022 which is in a challenging space. Every day in the West, commentators warn us of increasing energy prices, impending recession and worldwide social upheaval. The news is ‘doom and gloom.’ As always, we can pull the duvet over our heads and hope to survive the storm, or we can view the scene as a window of opportunity.
One thing is clear, if we are to do more than simply survive, if we are to thrive, we must support our clients. To do that, we must be flexible in our thinking.
This is when we show up and apply what I call “Diversity Thinking”
We are all aware of “Diversity & Inclusion” in the workplace. We usually take diversity to mean ‘different’ from the mainstream. The implication being the person or persons are a member of a minority grouping. Inclusion then becomes a moral & ethical request prior to the realisation that embracing diversity may also mean embracing unique experiences and skills.
Even if they are not consciously aware of the traits I am discussing, anyone who is part of a minority grouping implicitly understands the need for Diversity thinking, it’s how they have survived and, if they have managed to, how they’ve thrived.
There are seven core traits of Diversity Thinkers.
Survival & Resilience
Diversity thinkers have figured out a way to survive but, they also understand the need to go a step further and develop Resilience. Resilience is not just about refusing to quit, it’s knowing when to keep banging away and when to alter course, when to try another way. Diversity Thinkers know there’s always another way.
There’s a wonderful scene in the movie Apollo 13 when the controller in Houston played by Ed Harris insists “failure is not an option” and demands the team think differently to come up with a solution. As we know, that’s exactly what happened.
Make Your Difference Count
Diversity thinkers know how to use their difference to make a difference. Diversity thinkers don’t blend into the background, they own their uniqueness and celebrate it by making a difference to their environment and the people they serve.
Many years ago, I worked with a colleague who was in a wheelchair when the needs of wheelchair users were hardly ever catered for. His work ethic and effectiveness were such that he forced the organisation to take note.
He single-handedly changed the company policy on disability and brought about changes which are now standard, (there is still much work to do) including access to the building and creating the organisation’s disability policy.
It shouldn’t have been necessary, but he became a role model and effected lasting change.
Making a Contribution
Diversity thinkers commit to make a contribution. They understand success is measured by what they do for their clients and not simply by their own Balance Sheet. They also understand their role as problem solvers defines their businesses. When your focus is on your client and how you can contribute to their success, their business, your Balance Sheet will reflect the contribution you’re making.
The fearful mindset asks, “How much money do I need?” In his book ‘Entrepreneur Revolution’,* Daniel Priestley describes this as the “Greedy mindset.”
The entrepreneur mindset asks, “What value can I provide?”
We all know this, but are you really putting it into practice?
Connections, the lifeblood of your business
Diversity thinkers understand the power of connections. All too often I see people slaving away in a bubble. Wrestling with challenges and problems and burning out in the process. When you are trying to make a positive impact, trying to contribute, people will join you on the journey and help you. But they won’t know if you don’t tell them.
In, my recent TEDX talk I shared how amazing people showed up when I most needed them. You have to ask, but first you must show up otherwise nobody will know what you’re trying to achieve.
Growth & the desire to grow
Diversity thinkers, see any experience as an opportunity to grow. They celebrate and learn from their successes. When the outcome is not the one sought, they analyse what happened and ask, “What can I learn from this, and how can I grow?”
You don’t need me to tell you that life is full of successes and setbacks. While you can’t always control the outcomes, you can choose how to respond to them. You can give up or you can decide to find a way.
Know Who you are
Diversity thinkers understand the need to find meaning, even in the darkest, bleakest situation. It’s when you overcome life’s biggest challenges that you discover who you are and what your purpose is.
Edith Eger describes it as “The Gift” in her book* of the same name. In the book she chronicles the lessons learned on her journey as a survivor of the Holocaust.
The first step in becoming a Diversity Thinker is awareness. I encourage you to go through these traits and make an honest appraisal of where you are. Then you can make any changes you need to make. If you have a coach or mentor, take your findings to them.
Your clients really need you now.
Survival and Resilience, Difference, Contribution, Connections, Growth and knowing Who you are. These are key traits, but the mathematicians amongst you, will observe I’ve only given six and not the promised seven essential traits. The seventh is the glue that holds the whole thing together. Communication and particularly Dialogue are vital as without effective communication nobody will ever benefit from your gifts. Next time, I’ll share my approach to becoming a Diversity Communicator.
*I am not an affiliate and receive no financial gain for recommending these books but believe them to be an invaluable read.