A couple of things happened last week that really created a big thought that I have been going over.
The first was in my LinkedIn presentation last week, when some of the participants really seemed quite put out in thinking that there was any benefit in sharing what you were doing with others. Comments I heard resembled “What benefit is there to reading about what people are doing at any point in the day?” or more simply “How is this useful?”
The second occurred when Amber and I were out for a walk late last week and she was talking about an event she gets to go to this week where practitioners of her profession (neighborhood planning/city planning/regional planning) get together and discuss what they are doing and how collaboration could help them all. In the course of this conversation we started talking about all the possibilities of where we could go if we all worked together better.
Now, this is not a post about how I could solve the world’s problems and now we can all go skipping off into the sunset together with rainbows and unicorns leading the way. Everyday I live, I learn more and more how little I actually know. I just want to share.
My first issue comes from attacking people instead of problems. The place where this seems the most obvious to me is in politics. How many more times do we need to hear that a person is awful instead of their policies? I do not know how often I have heard that Obama is a socialist Muslim, or that Bush couldn’t even speak English. If either one of those things were even true, what do they have to do with immigration, or healthcare, or the economy? Attacking each other when there are so many problems we could be tackling seems like the largest waste of time and resources possible. Look at how much we are spending on television commercials alone, and how many of those are negative ads that attack only the person running on a personal level. This is such a waste of money and brainpower, it is just sad.
I think some of this stems back to what I have written before, in that people always seem to assume the negative so easily and the positive so strenuously. And the only resolution I can think of for this is for all of us to stop doing it. (Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?) I group myself in needing work on this, as it can be extremely difficult not to attack someone back when they start attacking you personally. But attacking back only escalates the situation and you end up creating even more problems. Stay focused on the actual problem and my guess is you will find that the person who disagrees with how you want to do it still wants to fix the root problem as well.
Which brings me to my next thought: there is never only one way to do anything. Why do we all seem to have such a problem with other people having different ways to do things than our way? I am glad that your way has worked for you, but what if it does not work for me? Or what if you and I have two different ways to do things, and combining them would make life better for both of us? You simply do not know until you try, so my recommendation here is try and then decide.
I know that this point in particular is very hard for many people to get around. Traditions, family, friends and many other sources have ingrained in many of us that there is a right way and a wrong way for many things. But from all of the many people I have known who are incredibly happy doing something in a “wrong way”, and the number of people I have known who are incredibly unhappy doing things in a “right way” I have come to the conclusion that everyone should just try and figure out what works for them. Placing everyone in a mold and expecting over 6 billion people to just accept it seems like entirely the wrong approach to me.
Thirdly, I think that we need to be more open. This gets back to the questions I always get asked whenever I talk to groups about social media. “What is the point to sharing so much of yourself?” And another side to it seems to be “Is it safe to do so?” In response I can simply say how much it has helped me grow both in my business ventures and as a person to be immersed in so much “sharing.” Sometimes I post something that even I think is inane, and I will get an outpouring of response.
For example, last summer I had an amazing dinner of grilled burgers and grilled corn on the cob so I posted just what I had had to eat on Facebook. I got more comments on that post than I normally get on 10 posts. People wrote about how much they loved corn on the cob when they lived in Des Moines, or that they had had the exact same thing as me that night, or one even shared special toppings that they thought everyone could enjoy. This had the effect of giving me another delicious recipe for corn on the cob, but more importantly it created a feeling of togetherness and happiness between people who have probably never even met.
That is the main jist of what I am trying to get across with all three of these thoughts: 1. Attack the problem, not the person. 2. There is no such thing as a “right way.” 3. Share ideas, thoughts, suggestions or anything, just participate. I personally believe that so much more could get done by following these three thoughts than by ignoring them. I also believe it would lessen the amount of conflict in the world in general. It is hard to get really angry at someone you have shared a laugh with. It is hard to hate someone who also “really loves puppies!!” The more we share with each other, the more we can see how much alike we all really are, and the easier it will be to understand our differences.
I would love to hear any feedback you have on this. Do you think I am completely wrong on one of my points? Or all of them? Do you have examples for or against my points? Please share in comments, or contact me through any of my contacts on the About Me page! : )