I’ve been part of several conversations on diversity lately; we are finally getting past the box-checking phase, and on to something more interesting and beneficial.
Phase 1 is assembly – bringing together diverse components.
Phase 2 is inclusion – putting those components together in the existing context.
Phase 3 is belonging – bringing out all of the best elements by adapting the context.
Some of us have been exposed to not-so-inspiring HR versions of diversity for a long time, and many organizations are stuck at phase 1 (or phase 0) so it might help to think of the topic in different terms. A kitchen pantry, maybe, or a garden. Just filling the cupboard with new spices doesn’t do much, and just adding new ingredients to an old dish usually is not so great either. But if you take the time to learn about the new ingredients, and think about how your old recipes might adapt, or where you might even try some new recipes… well, that’s where the magic happens.
The only challenge is that willingness and ability to adapt old practices, which sounds easy but can really be a doozy. For example, yesterday a friend mentioned the exclusive setting of the Oxford campus, where you can’t walk on the grass and can’t even access the gardens without a special key. It’s beautiful and traditional and if you have a key you do feel a little bit special. But if we want the benefits of real belonging, the lawn might get stepped on, and the keys might have to go.
Sure, letting go can be hard. But look what we gain in return. The whole world opens up. And you know, the grass will probably still look pretty good even if we’re playing whiffleball on it.
Dear Honeybees, what are our own precious protected lawns? Let’s try to take down the ropes, even if we have to start with one little corner of the field. Let’s kick off our shoes, and stroll with some friends today.
I’ve just dived into Alan Lightman’s new book, which begins by describing a transcendent experience on a starry night off the coast of Maine. You can find winks of this feeling everywhere – walking by the ocean, meeting the gaze of a newborn baby, hearing a chorus in harmony, leaning against a redwood…. Lightman’s goal is to embrace this feeling of transcendence while also embracing science.
We live in such an either/or world. Would you like to be athletic or brainy? Smart or kind? Spiritual or scientific?
Dear Honeybees, the next time we are faced with a ridiculous choice, let’s pick “and” instead.
* Right, those are snowflakes and not stars… because it’s April in Massachusetts.
It’s been a long cold winter.
Whether you are celebrating Easter or Passover or the melting of the final iceberg in the backyard, I hope you find a little patch of warmth today.
Take a breath.
Close your eyes.
Turn your face to the sun.
This week was a wonderful jumble of tactical questions, scientific exploration, and philosophical reflection… pretty much a perfect week.
It was a week of Big Questions. Is this portfolio reflecting the great variety of investment opportunity we see? Can studying algorithms and food webs help us to create better human teams? What does it mean to be an independent-minded investor?
The challenge of any big question is that we want to answer it so badly. And yet diving in too fast brings the risk of false precision. We are so determined to find THE answer that we assemble teams of experts to dissect the problem. I want to understand THE way to look at portfolio diversification, or optimal team design, or investment research – and if I ask a small enough question, sure enough, there is an answer.
Trouble is, to ask that small question, I have taken the glory of a forest and reduced it down to counting pinecones. Sometimes this is helpful, and sometimes it’s needed. But it’s not THE answer to “what is a forest?” The answers are as narrow as the question.
Small questions, small answers.
Dear Honeybees, where have we settled into the faux-certainty of small answers?
Let’s take those useful small answers and return, better informed, to the bigger questions.
* You can see Adichie’s wonderful TED talk on this topic here.
On this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I share with you John O’Donohue’s blessed Blessing (Beannacht).
On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colors,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.
You can hear O’Donohue read this poem (written for his own mother on the passing of his father) near the end of this lovely OnBeing episode, one of his last interviews.