Differences Make All The Difference

There was an uplifting story on the news about entrepreneurs who have Down Syndrome. These business owners are successful and having fun.

There’s an important leadership and life lesson here. The problem with our world is the irrational passion for conformity on issues that don’t matter. People tend to want to be around people who are like them. We are more likely to like them, give them a chance, hire, and promote them.

We think success looks, talks, and walks our way. It does not. No one could tell any of these entrepreneurs they were not making customers happy and enjoying their work.

Diversity is by design. Diversity is naturally occurring. Diversity ensures the greatest access to the most talents and abilities. Diversity produces innovation and progress through new thinking and added strengths. Diversity challenges complacency.

Individually, that player is talented but limited. On the right team with others who compensate for her limitations and optimize her strengths, she’s part of a team who wins a world championship. A team of exact replicas of her could never be #1.

People have to set aside our own irrational biases and cognitive miscues to truly succeed in life. In the movie Moneyball, the talent scouts allow personal biases to render their decades of experience to be almost useless combined with their failure to ever analyze actual data on player performance. They consistently picked overpriced and underperforming players and missed more talented players for less money.

The collective cost to America of ignoring, undervaluing, or underutilizing talent for the wrong reasons is in the trillions. The 21st century is the century of talent – talent governs – who attracts and retains it will win.

All that must matter is performance and integrity. Their commitment to the mission and team. Any other factor especially personal preferences and subjective biases cannot influence decisions.

Decisions must be evidence-based or else you are that talent scout in Moneyball foolishly recommending a multi-million dollar contract to a player because of “he must be a confident hitter because he has an attractive girlfriend” not his batting average or pitching performance.

It’s true in life too – don’t deny yourself friendships with others because they are not replicas of you. Be friends with people who share your values but may be different from you in all kinds of wonderful ways.

A defining difference between the ignorance of the Middle Ages and the illumination of the Renaissance was a rejection of tribalism in favor of collaborating and spending time with others who have different views, ideas, skills, and gifts than we have. It makes our work more successful and our lives far richer.

Image: Score.org


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