Diversity in Your Sphere of Influence ~ Marj Ivancic

     
In the United States, and probably many other countries, grade school and high school experiences are quite often defined by social cliques. There are the jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, burnouts, and so forth. I’m sure the names have changed in the 20-odd years since I had to remember a locker combination, but you get the point. Regardless of the moniker, the number one rule governing how these groups co-exist has stayed fairly concrete—do not intermingle.
     As we get older, we change; they change; Life forces us to work
together. The social stigmas fall away and that rule bends. But too often, it does not break. We still gravitate toward people who are “like” us. We crave people whose company makes us free safe, smart, and accepted.
     But what are we leaving on the table by staying this course?
     There are a number of studies out there now that show that diversity in one’s sphere of influence is linked to greater creativity, success, and overall happiness.
     Why?
     
It’s the domino effect, really. And it’s beautiful.
     Being around people from other cultures, economic backgrounds, occupations, schooling, and familial situations (etc.) allows you to see experiences through a host of different lenses, not just your own. You are exposed to their thought processes and logic, their viewpoints and rationales, and ultimately their reactions. You begin to learn new ways of thinking. You expand your logic patterns, opening doors that were not only closed before but did not even exist! It gives you so many more ways to remove barriers from you path and to solve problems. (In the world of innovation, many people call that the “beauty of strange connections,” but that’s a topic for another month!)
     This wider exposure has also been shown to lead to an increase in curiosity, flexibility, and willingness to try new things. Consequently, the more new experiences you have, the more comfortable you become with being confronted by the unknown. In fact, the number of “unknowns” in your life decreases, which means the frequency and chances of having such an encounter also goes down. (Hallelujah!)
     AND by broadening your experiences, you learn what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’re willing to tolerate. Essentially, you learn who you really are. Imagine how improved your relationships with others could be if you really knew YOU?
     In all of this, it’s also important to build relationships with people who challenge you. They’re the masters at what they do and can be mentors to you. They give you the hard truth (in a kind fashion) so that you continue to grow and improve. “Yes Men” may make you feel good in the moment, but they won’t advance you as a person.
     I use the term “sphere of influence” because I don’t think you have to be best friends with all of these people. In fact, I don’t think this is limited to one-on-one relationships with people at all. 
     Take “Originality by Design,” for example. It seeks to inspire
the creativity in us all. It’s structured to bring together a group of people to share their assorted experiences and knowledge. Through its mission, it supports this diversity of thought. It’s open and obligation free—all you have to do is read.
     So with that, I’ve decided to put two challenges before me during the next year:
   
 1) to regularly read/watch/listen to something on a topic that doesn’t interest me or directly impact anything I’m working on or that is happening in my life
     2) to keep the proverbial seat at the table beside me open. Who knows who might sit there and what they might teach me!
     I’m sure I’ll fail here and there—I am an introvert, after all—but it’s the effort that counts! Perhaps in a later installment, I’ll report back on what I’ve learned!
    





 

6 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post, Marj! You are so spot on with this. we all need to be more inclusive of diversity, whether it is people we meet for the first time, subjects that have never interested us, or our tried and true go to's. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  2. My thoughts exactly, Grace! Your post is inspriational, Marji! Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with us.

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    1. Thank you! I get so much inspiration from this group of people here at Originaly by Design!

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  3. I especially liked that you set goals for yourself to expand your experience. I am going to try your 1st goal. 1) to regularly read/watch/listen to something on a topic that doesn’t interest me or directly impact anything I’m working on or that is happening in my life

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    1. That one is going to be uber tough for me. Time is precious, so when I don't see immediate results, I get antsy. Lol
      But this experiment is all about future, intangible results...so I gotta stick to my guns!

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