Let me start out with a famous line that could summarize the whole thing
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
To be fair, I never read the book so this is taken only for the words written to apply to today's outlook. In today’s world of information and polarization, we all have been subjected to information overload that has been mostly projected by bias from the projector. To quote the old man: “Back in my day, we would just read the newspaper to find out what was going on” (If you didn’t think of that phrase with an old wispy voice, we can’t be friends).
That day of single-sourced bliss is long gone. Some would venture to say that single-source information equals greater mind control of the masses. Today’s world is full of facts, opinions, fact stretching and straight-out rhetoric told by politicians, media, influencers and the everyday Joe with a smartphone and social media account. What has developed from this is the ability to choose and follow what we want to hear coupled with the dangerous ability to turn off what we don’t want to hear. Really... Just one click makes it go away and people feel empowered by it.
What if I were to tell you that the national government is being run by people who are hell bent on destroying our country? Then, what if I said our national government is run by innovators courageous enough to make bold changes needed for our future? I can safely say that I am right and I probably offend most of you by one of the two statements.
In a chattier session of a class for upcoming leaders, I show a drawing and ask the group to describe the picture to me. A percentage of the participants describe a young slender woman with a choker chain looking away while another group scoffs at the idea because they see an old woman with a big nose and a wart, no teeth looking down at the picture. In reality, the drawing is a visual trick meant to show both images—or one, depending on the person.
As we continue the conversation in class, each group is shown the other side's vision, pointing out the trigger points that sway their vision to the other side. After some conversation and study, the ah-has start to appear and both sides become both satisfied that they got their points across and enlightened that they saw something they didn’t before. It is this knowledge of euphoria as the speaker that I am after and achieve every time.
Even in our business, politics, culture and bias have wedged their way into our operations and P&L statements. Guests are judging your philanthropy while your team is bickering about the rapidly changing social tolerance and intolerance. Your vision of today’s car count and TA goals are being clouded by the debate of the latest bumper sticker on the next guest’s back window.
Seeking out diversity in your team just to call yourself a DEI complaint comes at a huge risk if you do not capitalize on the actual idea of diversity. If you think diversity ends at hiring an African American person, a gay person, and a woman, you are doing it wrong. The key to diversity is to bring in people with strong attributes from different cultures and paths that can help everyone develop into better people through idea and history sharing. Better, more rounded people make for stronger businesses.
To the puffy chest leader, tone down the hate clouds coming out of your ears right now. We aren’t going to be putting safe circles in your shop. What we should be doing is developing conversations with each other to learn the other side of the story. You will not be able to silence the masses in this era, you will only be able to channel it and use it for what it is, the satisfaction of both sides getting their point across for someone to see and the enlightenment of seeing something you didn’t before.
It is perfectly ok to disagree with someone, conflict is healthy in our development. There is a huge respectful difference between saying "I agree" and "I understand. "