The Curse and Blessing of Behavioral Diversity: Owning Our Gifts

Choices are the hinges of destiny

~Edwin Markham

I used to take comments like ‘you think too much’ or ‘you are such an abstract thinker’ to heart, believing the negative judgement I thought they implied. The same was true for comments that expressed displeasure when my empathy and patience made me champion respect and kindness over expediency and impact.

And then one day, participating in an executive meeting, I spontaneously summarized the two hour-long proceedings of a strategic change management meeting and the CEO looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know how you just did that, but thank you.’ My curiosity about the value of behavioural diversity to team performance began that very day.

I have since come to view behavioural diversity as a treasure trove. One that we ourselves, and organizations, must protect from the pressures of social norming which tends to suppress uncommon and less forceful talents. This is possibly most true for the talents of introverts who tend to be intensely mindful and aware of their surroundings, cooperative and compassionate toward others, and willing to bring their attention outside themselves to reflect on others’ viewpoints. These very talents make them good at perceiving the true complexity of what is happening around them and understanding the longer-term implications of present-moment happenings.

If you’ve experienced challenges contributing your talents, consider the possibility that you may not have found your best-fit career direction and context. It is also possible that your talents are uncommon and not so easily aligned with mainstream roles. This may mean that you will need to build a more eclectic career path than many to fulfill your potential and be happy. And if you are a true creative, a rewarding but inherently challenging place that requires much courage to lean into, then faithfulness to your true self will always be the most important measure of your success.

There is no one right answer beyond finding out what is right for you and making the most of your one wild and precious life. In-depth career assessment is one avenue that we can use to understand what is likely to bring us career satisfaction and success. Engaging in a soul-searching discernment process to figure out who we are deep down inside and what is most meaningful to us, is another. In my personal experience, the combination of the two has been liberating and life transforming.

 

Germaine Watts is a thought leader, author, speaker and co-founder of Ensentious – a consultancy and workshop/retreat provider dedicated to helping individuals, teams, and organizations thrive. As a mindfulness coach, SuccessFinder expert, and facilitator with the Centre for Courage and Renewal, she seeks to foster connection between soul and role in ways that supports personal, organizational, and societal transformation.