Someone recently asked me this question. They were not referring to how quickly I learn when given a book, while taking an online course, or being shown how to do something.
What they were referring to was how far down the road of life do you need to go before you see something that you didn’t understand before? That makes something or everything you do now seem a little out of place? Or that you don’t perceive something the same way now that you have acquired a new or different understanding?
I shared a new understanding about my business, that I found in the last month, with this person. They posed this question to me because I do not have a management team yet in my business. In reflection, I’m guessing they were thinking “why did it take so long for him to realize this”?
What I realized was that the question was not a business question but a personal one.
The more we are alone, the less opportunities we have to learn and grow. We have to travel much further down life’s road in order to finally see or learn something new. The longer it takes to learn — no matter how smart you are with books and things.
The more our groups, routines, and contacts are the same, the smaller our universe. The same thing happens — the longer it takes to learn something new! It happened to me growing up in a small family business that I entered into. Everything around me was familiar, homogeneous, and safe.
The key to shortening the time it takes to learn new things is becoming more immersed in diversity. Diversity, next to struggle, is an incredible catalyst for growing and evolving as a person. Your family, friendships, relationships and your work or business cannot grow and evolve unless you grow and evolve first.
Diversity exposes us to new ideas faster (challenging our “old ones”) the more different our friends, interests, experiences, relationships, and contacts are throughout our day. Diversity accelerates our capacity to learn. Many times in unexpected ways.
(Sending kids away to college is an example of forcing them into greater diversity to learn and grow away from the family routine that is safe and comfortable.)
The more diverse our environment and daily interactions become, the more we learn that there are multiple ways to think about things. Different people think differently than we do. They choose different options. Some that we didn’t know existed is situations that are similar to ours. They teach us that our way of thinking is neither exclusive nor complete.
Diversity helps stabilize and balance our perspectives providing us with the humility and acceptance that we may know less than we think. (Yes, this is an ok feeling to have.)
These are the gifts that cultivating diversity in our lives offers us.
Most importantly, we first need to be respectful and loving of the many friends, relationships, and contacts we already have. No matter whether they are few or many. They helped get us to where we are today.
At the same time, don’t be scared to seek diversity when you can. Life always steers us into ruts that are safe and comfortable. One of our goals in life should be to further develop our capacity to learn, evolve and grow faster.
Our challenge is to have the strength to become uncomfortable (by embracing diversity in our lives) to learn more quickly to see who we can become.