Every story is unique and really does matter…

November 2, 2017

Two quotes from recent posts to the Jack’s Winning Words blog seem to go together –

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.”  (Margaret Mead)

-and-

“Everyone has a story.  Every story matters.”  (Nicole Wedemeyer Miller)

If everyone is unique and has a story, then it follows that every story is unique. That is one of the values that we all gain from diversity in our society; and, that matters. That we don’t take time to listen to every story or to try to understand the unique perspective from which they come is our loss.

The knee-jerk reaction from #POTUS to the recent terrorist act in New York was to state that he would try to end the Diversity Visa Program that was put in place a few years back by the Obama administration to encourage diversity in migration to the U.S. fromexclusion underrepresented countries around the world. What a shame it would be to limit our experience of the different contributions to our society that could come out of that program.

The term diversity is a broad umbrella which embraces differences in ethnicity, life style, sexual preference, gender and many other things that can go into making each individual unique. To wall off any one of those things and prevent people who possess that characteristic from interacting with our society would be a loss. That loss comes out of the denial to experience and react to those differences. It is the same as saying that we will only allow certain kinds of distorted viewmusic to be played or certain types of art to be displayed. We become the poorer by restrictions limiting or censoring our experiences. In many countries experiencing the truth is limited by government censorship and in some, such as North Korea, reality itself gets distorted.

So, the take-away is that we should embrace diversity in our society and try to learn from the differences that we encounter in the unique people that we meet. We need to substitute wonder and understanding for the fear and loathing that too often drive us away from those who are “different.” We need to approach our interactions with those who are different from us with the goal of learning and understanding, rather than avoiding, judging or condemning.no judgement

It may well be that you will find the point of view of someone else to be something that you cannot understand and certainly don’t accept; but, at least, you will then better understand why and how they may act about things. Understanding the other person’s point of view will help you choose the best way to react to them. Perhaps, just by trying to understand them better, you will engage in a dialogue that slightly changes both of you and brings you both closer to some common ground.

It is important when engaging with others who have very different points of view to keep in mind another saying that was posted to Jack’s blog recently –

“I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right.”  (Sent by Don Sunshine)

The opposite is also true; that the other person doesn’t have to be wrong, either. It is the tendency to stand on the supposedly high moral ground of saying “I’m right and you’re wrong” that continues to cause many of the problems that we have in our society today. diversityYes, black lives matter; and yes, all lives matter. So where is the real conflict there? Which side is excluding the other? I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right.

So, let us as a nation continue to welcome unique people and their stories. Let us try to learn from them. Let us find ways to integrate the value that they bring with them to our common good. We are the richer as a nation because we have always welcomed the poor of the world. I can’t wait to hear the next story.

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Be the best you that you can be…

January 28, 2015

No, this isn’t a commercial for the Army. For whatever reason I recently started thinking about what Dr. Seuss might have said about trying to be the best that you can be in life. Perhaps it would have sounded like this – “I’m trying hard to do good things you see, ‘cause I want to be the very best me.  I’m no longer trying to be like you and I’m through acting like others, too. Giving that up, now I am free, to work real hard on being the very best me.”

Well it turns out that I’ve written about this topic before and used an actual Dr. Seuss quote – see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/07/14/be-the-best-you/ . That’s OK, I’ve got more to say on the topic.

you aint meWe all have the tendency to spend way too much time trying to be something we’re not in the belief that it will help us “fit in”; instead of focusing on being the best at who we really are. Much of that behavior is caused by a lack of self- confidence or, put another way, because we just don’t like ourselves. I’ve written here a few times about topics like being yourself and learning to like yourself enough to enjoy moments alone. It is important that you get comfortable with who you are and what you bring to things in life. As you try to do that, through self-reflection; you might conclude that there are some things that you need to work on and that’s OK, too. Devise a plan to work on them and set out to make yourself even better and more likable (at least to you). It usually works out that when you like what you see in yourself others will like it to.

One of the side benefits of getting to that comfort zone with yourself is that your confidence in who you are will come out in your everyday interactions with others. Being self-confident, without becoming self-centered or a narcissist, provides you with an aura that believeothers will sense and find reassuring. Leaders are not those who exhibit lots of self-doubt and second guessing of themselves; but you don’t have to be a leader to exude self-confidence, you just have to accept and like yourself for who your are and go from there. Sometimes that starts by stopping something else – beating yourself up over things that go wrong.  Don’t kick yourself when you’re down; instead pick yourself up, try to learn from whatever just happened and move on in a positive way.

So off you go to be the best you that you can be, confident in your assessment that there’s no one else exactly like me. And, that a good thing and undoubtedly true, as Dr. Seuss mewould say, “there’s no one you’er than you.”  Now you know, that, the truth be told, being timid isn’t nearly as much fun as it is be bold; get out there and jump in and help the world to see that the thing they were missing was “someone like me.” Let the world know that you can sing, you can dance, you can draw, you can write and you’ll no longer be held back by doubts or by fright. It’s time to come out from behind the curtain made up of your fears and doubts of that I am certain. So, you be you and I’ll be me and let’s try to both be the best that we can be.

Have a great week ahead and I hope that we meet, because knowing someone like you would really be sweet.