Be Kind, for Everyone you Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle

[Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood Cover]

You probably recognize this as a quote, and you are right. It's from Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.

I don't talk enough about diversity here — not just in the sense of women in the workplace, etc. What I mean by diversity is individuals who are wired differently.

The first time I met Jim Collins, I had no idea who he was. Sure, he was perched on a stool placed at the center of a big stage in front of hundreds of people having an amiable conversation with Alan Webber we just happened to "overhear" — it was just so intimate and spontaneous that we were tangentially aware it was a keynote with an accomplished thinker.

At that event, Fast Company RealTime Phoenix, Collins introduced for the first time — at least for me — the concepts which them became part of Good to Great. My biggest take away from the conversation was this idea of the three circles:

  1. what you're really good at
  2. what you were born to do
  3. what people will pay you to do

The example that stayed with me over time was for the second circle — what you were born to do.

I once worked with a true mathematician who was developing risk mapping tools. He didn't look or sound like anything I would have imagined from the stereotype. I assure you, though, that the way he processed information and thought about problems was quite unique.

… That and the cultural differences between a Russian and an Italian. Ah, the discussions!

When a few years later I worked in an organization at development level, we used a tool called the Birkman Method. More on what it is and what we did in how do you select your team?

Apply the same principle in your organization, firm, or business, and you may find similar results. Resonance and respect are very important in a professional environment. The term confidence comes to mind — the ability to rely on someone, including the ability they develop to rely on themselves.

Making room for someone else is complicated by the stuff already in the container. The conversation we have with ourselves about the world.

At the very least, that starts with being kind, helping draw out the best from the individuals and teams at work — and more broadly in life. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Genuine connection supports confidence, and great work stems from that stance.

I know I grow exponentially when I'm operating from that stance and in an environment that exposes me to that kind of diversity in thinking and doing. We do need each other.

Look around and notice who you see. It might mean you need to get out more.


[Listen to this spectacular Italian version by The Trails Acoustic Trio (thank you, Mike).
What do you feel in it? Beyond the lyrics, in the rhythm, the
instruments, the beat. I hear and see all the times different is
difficult, unpopular. There is no benchmark, it's too new.]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and company events on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.

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