Uphill or Downhill?


Difference can be a powerful catalyst. The tension of difference is at the root of all change, learning, and innovation. None of these things can happen without the inclusion of different ideas, information, perspectives, identities, experiences, practices, etc. Not sure which said it best, but Frank Zappawithout deviation from the norm there can be no progress,” and Gregory Batesondifference is the analog of cause,” both spoke to this in different and elegant ways.

Difference is fuel, it is a social catalyst, it pushes relationships, groups, organizations and communities in one direction or another.


If you see difference as a problem, it is probably going to be a problem for you. If you see it as a resource, it is probably going to be a resource for you. Difference is similar to gravity and wind, its impact has a lot to do with whether you are trying to work with it or against it…the difference between pushing a rock uphill and rolling the same rock downhill.

Difference matters on its own, but you get to decide how it matters.

Talking about differences (and our related feelings and experiences) can certainly be uncomfortable and emotional; this is true of many important things in life.

I have been told by several leaders “we don’t really use the word diversity here, there is just too much baggage attached to it.” There are some words I could probably say goodbye to – I could let go of the word “engagement,” and the word “monetize,” probably the words “metric,” and “management.” But diversity is a real thing and a fundamental aspect of the human experience. Difference is something that exists between you and every other human being, how many things can that be said of? It is far too precious for us to treat it so poorly. Stop running away from the word. Take better care of it. If you are letting others determine what words you use or do not use or how they are used, you have chosen to be somebody’s hobby.

Having a positive relationship with difference starts with your relationship with the language you use.

Take care of your words.

Be good to each other.



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