In Deference to Difference

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to reinforce the power in diversity. Reading time: 3:21

      Natural gas is odorless –yet you can still smell leaking gas. Why?

      wind 1 powerlinesUtility companies add a chemical– methyl mercaptan– that gives the natural gas an unnatural scent.

      And some might say a life-saving accent.

      Adding that chemical –that beneficial difference —to the natural gas is symbolic of effective leadership.

       That’s because the most effective leaders bring together diverse elements to create a more productive, more efficient, and more effective working environment.  They understand that diversity can enrich, engage and empower creative and critical thinking skills.

      Indeed, effective leaders marshal a greater deference to difference. They foster a greater respect for the mastery of –and the majesty in — diversity.

      And no wonder, even Mother Nature’s awesome power stems from her deference to differences like these:

      Electricity flows because of the difference between a positive charge and a negative charge.

      Water flows because of the difference in water pressure.
         Wind blows because of the difference in air pressure.

Boats float because of the difference in density between the steel hull and the air that fills the hull.

       Parlaying Opposites

24 karat gold

24 karat gold

         That deference to difference can strengthen as it empowers.

         Consider 24-karat gold. It is not pure gold. Pure gold would be too soft to use in designing jewelry. So 24-karat gold is mixed with copper to make the gold stronger.

        That deference to difference can strengthen performance even more productively especially in integrating opposites. For example:

         A knife can cut because it integrates opposites— a sharp blade and a smooth handle.

         A row boat moves forward because it integrates opposites– the rower sits opposite the forward direction.

Perfume attracts because it integrates opposites– skunk oil and flowers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A hand can grasp because it integrates opposites-four fingers and a thumb.

         Drywall is strong because it integrates opposites-– a thin sheet of paper sandwiching the powder-like gypsum.

         A clock keeps time because it integrates opposites-wheels turning in opposite directions.

          The sphinx in ancient lore had access to all wisdom because it integrates a composite of a human, bull, lion and eagle. The sphinx had the head of a human, the body of a bull, the feet of a lion and the wings of an eagle.

       wine Diversity enhances performance and enriches wisdom.

        Maybe that’s why there were 60 different human languages recorded and launched into deep space on Voyager in 1977. Maybe that’s why Mark Twain included seven different dialects in his book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

        Diversity enhances performance and enlivens your taste buds.

        Maybe that’s why a glass of wine has 15 different flavor characteristics while colas have only eight or nine. Maybe that’s why there are 150 different kinds of pasta.

         At any rate,  in championing diversity, leaders promote creative and critical thinking skills to guard against group think. They embrace the admonition of columnist Walter Lippmann who once said: “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

         No wonder. Leaders think. Very much. And vary much.

         With diversity.

Today’s ImproveMINT

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