We speak of diversity in reference to gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, ethnic or religious background…
The problem with this is the labelling it creates and the notion that we need to take special steps for this labelled cohort. Diversity, and sister terms like ‘inclusion’, suggest acknowledging groups, often minority groups. But the very grouping, the very labelling of the group, is itself creating a boundary. An us and them.
In reality, we’re talking about difference, and we’re all different. All individually diverse. All totally unique.
The more we pay attention to who we are and how we come to the world, the more curious and open hearted we are; recognising that everyone around us does that differently… the better we will be. Everyone comes as their unique self. Everyone has a place.
Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best
Many of us come to work and do two jobs.
One, we get paid for.
The other we do to survive. We spend time and energy looking good, making sure our boss and our colleagues like us, appreciate what we do, can see the value we bring. We spend time and energy hiding weaknesses, making sure any inadequacies are kept buried from view, protecting our vulnerabilities. We spend time and energy manoeuvring through the political and cultural slime of the organisation, hoping to escape its quicksand-like pull. We spend time and energy concealing mistakes, showcasing successes, managing and preserving our reputation. We spend time and energy on relationships that might protect us, on gangs, tribes and clans of people like us.
This second job gets a lot of attention, but largely goes unnoticed, because we all do it and we all conceal it. It’s like an unconscious game we all have to play, because anyone who doesn’t play may lose out.
What if our organisations were able to shift so that openly bringing our whole self to work was encouraged, so that mistakes, errors, weaknesses were seen as opportunities for learning and personal growth? Not learning to develop our weaknesses per se, but freedom to acknowledge them with equal weight to our unique abilities. Learning that we’re good, able, confident people really and learning that this ‘other’ job is directed at preserving a myth. The myth that we need to do that job at all.
We could all stop. All quit this second job. Together. Now.
This is an underpinning thought behind the concept of
the Deliberately Developmental Organisation here
He offered her the world. She said she had her own.
There is no reality. There is your reality, my reality, his reality, her reality. The simple fact is that what we see, what we hear, what we pay attention to, what we interpret, what we delete, what we distort, what we generalise, what makes sense for us… is all uniquely us, even when we seemingly experience exactly the same thing.
His world, her world, my world, your world.
Out beyond ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
Judgement stifles freedom, space, uniqueness, diversity, acceptance…
Let’s meet in the open field.
In recent months I have spoken to a number of people with dyslexia.
One common aspect of our conversations has intrigued me. The tension that is created between a need for some support, balanced with a desire not to be marked out as different. I want some help, but I don’t want to be seen to want help.
Those I have spoken to have talked of their shame. A sense that in some way they are inadequate. Unable to do things that others find straightforward. Many hide their dyslexia for this reason. Preferring to find their own coping mechanisms. Choosing roles and work where the challenges arising from their dyslexia aren’t exposed.
Whilst my dyslexic confidants have shared their fear of judgement, their desire to hide their ‘condition’, they have also shared heart wrenching stories of the efforts required to cope. To stay afloat. Many are desperate for some simple supports.
The reality here of course is that these dyslexic individuals have other strengths, other capabilities which are more developed and stronger than their non-dyslexic colleagues. Just as with any human being, we are all different. All unique.
We all hide too.
Sometimes we hide a part of ourselves from those around us. Often we hide a part of ourselves from ourselves. Yet we think that the hiding is hidden.
Honesty and truth seldom bring blame, judgement, criticism. When they do, it is those criticising, judging, blaming who are the individuals who are really hiding. Hiding behind judgement, criticism and blame.
We need to come out of the shadows.
To learn to be, in all our unique glory.
To stop hiding.
image by: Sally Green
As Winter approaches the leaves on the trees thin daily. A tree in my garden has maybe only a hundred left.
I wonder whether I will get to witness the last leaf on the tree?
I wonder also, what makes it the last leaf on the tree? What gives it the resilience to hang on in there? What gives it its strength? The determination to stay attached to its branch? What marks that leaf out from the rest? From the masses? The thousands that have fallen? Is it the courage to stand out, or the fear of falling that keeps it in place? Is it the position it holds in the structure of the tree? Or maybe its angle in relationship to the elements; the wind and rain that strive to dislodge it? What makes it special?
In life, what makes us persist? Hang on? What gives us grit and determination? What makes us stand out from the crowd? Unique?