My son Justin gave me a testimonial about how application of the principles of DifferenceWORKS may have saved a promising business. Usually those principles – appreciating vs. judging differences – are applied to one person who operates on the masculine end of the masculine-feminine continuum and another with more feminine tendencies. In this case they worked between two men, both very masculine at core.
I believe that learning to appreciate one kind of difference (e.g., masculine-feminine differences) gives us tools that we can apply to appreciating all kinds of differences. Justin has some feminine strengths, but is more like Max, our prototype for masculine, than Fran, the prototype for feminine ways of thinking and acting. For example, when he is using the grill, he knows how to do it (or thinks and acts like an expert). He resists advice (including mine) – right up until the food is a crisp. Justin’s business partner is also a Max, so tough that he has participated four times in an incredibly rigorous physical feat – the Lakota Sundance. Says Justin,
“Lakota sun dancers pierce their chest . . . and tether themselves to a tree. With no food, very little water and rest, they dance for four days straight and at the end have to leap in the air forcefully enough to rip the lances from their chests.”
Justin and this business partner discovered they had different work and communication styles. At one point, Justin (founder and CEO) was so frustrated he wanted to “strangle” the other guy or part ways; but he realized either option would jeopardize the business he has worked on for two years that was at a critical point.
I told Justin about how I had “practiced what I preach” by applying the principles of my book – to accept differences in a colleague. If I recognize that something that irritates me in another is not bad, wrong or defective, but is just a difference, I can pause and recall the strengths that go with those differences. Understanding this, judgment changes to acceptance and even appreciation.
Unlike how he behaves at the grill, Justin followed my advice. He says, “I insisted that we recognize when our differences present the potential for catastrophe and [apply] the principles of my mom’s book.” He reports the result:
My co-founder and I are two macho guys, one with scars on his chest and the other with a couple of small ones on his hands from burning things on the grill, . . . who owe a great deal to the principles of DifferenceWORKS.”
The principles work across all kinds of differences, not just gender. Where have you seen judgment and frustration dissolve when you recognize differences?