From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I read a book while on vacation because I loved its title – Get Out of Your Own Way. In the book author Dave Hollis talks about the scenarios that we often face in work and in life when we have to deal with people who are vastly different from us.
Hollis uses a great analogy about ketchup. Some people keep ketchup in the cupboard, he began. I have to admit that this was a new fact to me as I was raised in a household that kept ketchup in the fridge and I have never, ever questioned this in my adult household. I just keep it in the fridge.
Hollis pointed out that if everyone on your team is the same there will be gaps and blind spots in whatever project or plan that team is tackling. And of course his playful illustration was that if the entire team is made up of “ketchup in the fridge” people, there will be no ketchup at all if the group is working in a place where the ketchup is in the cupboard. Ketchup will be available, perhaps even in abundance, as with me, not a single person on the team would consider looking in the cupboard and would therefore miss out on the tomato-y goodness.
This analogy is a great reminder about difference, and how we are perhaps drawn to the like-minded … but in order to stretch, reach further, develop a great plan or just be better today than we were yesterday, we need to lean in to other perspectives.
So, yes, there will always be people who agree with us, get our sense of humour, work so seamlessly with us that it is like magic – and we gravitate to them when there is heavy lifting to do. This story is just a reminder that there are untold condiments of improvement if we look around and think about what perspective or personality or experience is missing and hunt for it to ensure we have the full picture.
There are different questions that can only be asked if there are different lived experiences and points of view. There are different angles and ideas that, if we hold space for them, will make our projects and plans better. And, as in the case of the room temperature ketchup, we will come to understand that world around us better and be better able to relate.
Don’t get me wrong, it is way more comfortable to go with the people who quickly understand my way of thinking, always laugh at my jokes, like the same things and keep their ketchup cold… but we need to keep urging ourselves to seek out the different ideas and the folks who can rub us the wrong way.
The grilled cheese sandwich is a wonderful culinary delight, but it is even better when you consider that some outside thinker decided that ketchup would make it even better, whether cold or at room temperature.
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