Learning New Things

3d Little man choose between win or loseI’m intrigued by political rumblings in the news and how the various sides in any discussion seem to take umbrage at whatever the other side in that same discussion has to say. It’s not my desire to throw fuel on any fires or to pile on. That may have been a fun thing to do in first grade football, but “piling on” rarely moved the ball forward back then and I think forward movement would benefit us all a lot more than trying to make deeper piles.

One problem I see is that we Americans come into these discussions trying so hard to be politically correct and not offend anyone anywhere that we fail to speak out and present any ideas. At the same time that we’re trying not to offend others, it seems that we unconsciously place the proverbial chip on our own shoulder and then wait to see who will knock it off. That means we’re focusing not on the problem to be solved, but on ourselves. And therein lies the real problem.

My hope, therefore, is that we move through this next election cycle less focused on our own agendas and our own feelings, and that we toughen up a bit and realize that most people who say things that we find offensive do not do so on purpose, but do so because of a lack of understanding about our point of view. If we can brush off the offense for a moment and try hard to understand and contribute to the dialog, then maybe we can come out better and stronger as a nation on the other side. But it starts with us as individuals. It doesn’t start with our government nor with our elected officials.

There’s a takeaway for us professionally and personally as well.

We can all learn new things, and we can learn from the most surprising sources. I confess that there have been many times when I thought I had all the answers. I did not. Certainly, my experience in business has given me insights and ideas, but there’s nothing like a fresh set of eyes and ears on any challenge to bring fresh solutions to the table. My goal, therefore, is to seek out new ideas that might expand and improve the way I think about things and not throw those ideas off the table just because they don’t fit my usual way of doing things. No, not all ideas are good ones, but I will consider them to discover if they might be, and if they are, then I will have expanded my toolset and my way of thinking and problem-solving. I hope that will make me a greater asset to the team.

How about you? Are there some resources you’ve been overlooking? Are there some chips on your shoulders professionally or personally that are standing in the way of honest discussion and needed improvement?

Here’s to moving the ball forward … and not piling on.