Something has got to give.  If you haven’t read it, Hofstede’s Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind has a lot of great insight.  I’d like to share a piece with you here.   Hofstede refers to differences between cultures that have either a short-term or long-term orientation.  One of these differences is the axiom that serves as the code to how cultures approach differences.  The axioms are that we can look at our differences in two ways:  1) If A is true, it’s opposite B must be false or 2) If A is true, it’s opposite B can also be true.  Within the broader text, the second axiom goes further to say … and together they produce a wisdom superior to either A or B.

There are a number of interpretations that might be drawn.  Win-Lose vs Win-Win being one.  When we are able to accept another’s perspective and appreciate both our own needs and those of another or others, with time, attention and effort, we are often able to produce a greater solution.  One could argue that such ability is key to innovation.  Perspectives come together to find a solution taking into account as many angles as exist perspectives.  This brings to mind how valuable diversity of thought can be when we are able to transcend our need to win at another’s expense and appreciate and assimilate alternate viewpoints.

The question is raised, how does this happen?  How do we create such a situation?  I submit it starts with creating a foundation of trust, starting with self trust, which inevitably builds our trust of others.  Because we see the world as we are, when we trust ourselves, we in turn trust the world around us.  Such trust enables us to approach others and situations trusting unknown intent.  We drop the assumption of bad intent and replace it with good.  Just following the 80/20 rule, a vast majority of the time, especially within communities, whether neighborhood or professional, we are going to encounter trustworthiness.  I would go so far as to argue that even half of the 20% encompasses misinterpreation and miscommunication.

Folks, there is more positive than negative in our world.  It is simply our focus on the negative that magnifies it.  We want more of the same than our need to “win” will let us realize.  So next time someone has a different view than you, practice listening with heart.  You might just hear something familiar.  I’m willing to bet on it.

Hugs,

Jacqueline

A former colleague shared on Facebook recently an article that seemed to defend the humanities ( http://chronicle.com/article/Beyond-Critical-Thinking/63288/) while challenging the fact that critical-thinking has become erroneously defined as singularly critical.  Then, I attended a symposium and ended up talking with the admirable presenter, an educator, and for all the intelligent conversation we did have, one thing discussed with another colleague struck and disturbed me for which I did not have words to respond at the time. 

The long done erosion of fine arts in schools, what appears to be a need to defend the humanities curriculum in higher education, and then the promotion of competency based training… at the expense of liberal arts in higher education, leaves me fundamentally disturbed.  The comment that started this discussion that ended with this latter observation was “who has ever been asked to deconstruct Beowulf in an interview?”!!! I have to say I was astounded to hear this dialogue between my colleagues whom I admire as intelligent.

I’ll own the fact that I may be biased, having been educated in the arts.  I held concern early on how such an education would translate into the world of employment and was assured that the liberal arts breed true leadership.  They do this because they expose us to a broader purview and to activity that expands the capacity of the brain, that feeds creativity.

Is creativity not tantamount to innovation in the business world?  And I read all over, and truly believe, innovation to be a critical element to success in a global economy.  So why is it that we seem to want to undermine our capacity in this realm?  There is something to everything, so yes community colleges offering competency based education has a definite place, but could it be that through this under-exposure to the arts that we have undermined our societal capacity to conceptualize, think “out of the box”?  Are we now recognizing a need for that which we have bred out through the loss of arts based education?

Just because we do not understand a thing, because we can not recognize immediate value, is it of any less value.  Truly, there is something to everything; though no one thing is the end all, be all in itself.  I propose that under-exposure to the arts has created a kind of prejudice, one that devalues diversity of thinking.  We see it in communication training where the art of conversation has been usurped by one’s ability to form a sound bite that has any chance of being heard.  Our capacity to listen, to hear, to just appreciate something for what it is, to reflect, to share in-depth, to take… time…  Are we literally breeding this out ourselves as a society?  Have we become the society of the “quick fix”?

I witness this in a focus on short-term and short-sighted problem solving, in a reluctance to invest in potential for the long-term, in our need for “specialists” who can fill an immediate skill requirement with no regard to satisfying our human craving for growth.  Technology could allow us more time to spend on one another as humans, but instead it has fed a desire for even we humans to produce better and faster.  Are we set to dehumanize our selves?  Turn ourselves into the robots we seek to create from technology?  Is that it?  In order to create robots in our own image, must we first reduce ourselves to becoming the robots we seek to create?

Take… time… and give someone a hug.  It is so much more than a handshake.

~ Jacqueline