As our nation gets ready to celebrate our 240th birthday, I am always thankful for the freedoms and “unalienable rights” that our founding fathers, members of our armed forces and many others have fought to protect and defend. More than ever, I am aware of the wonderful diversity and inclusion on which our great country was founded, and I encourage all of us to pause and reflect on it this holiday weekend.
The term “melting pot” is often used to describe this diversity. The U.S. is built on the assimilation of immigrants and the "melting together" or fusion of nationalities, cultures and ethnicities into a common culture. We have shaped a culture that leverages the strengths and unique attributes of us all while creating something new – and hopefully better – because of those diverse backgrounds. Our founding fathers had a vision for something greater than the individual colonies where they came from and that bringing together the strengths, different perspectives and views, and experiences of the individuals would make a stronger and better union together.
I believe this idea of fusing different backgrounds in our country is important in other areas of our lives, too, such as in our families, on our kids’ sports teams, in the organizations where we work, at the places where we worship and in our communities. We win games because of the strengths and views on the field from the quarterback, linebacker and wide receiver. Our organizations achieve strategic goals because of the various technical, management, sales and process skills each team member brings. We couldn’t win or achieve our goals (as swiftly and consistently, anyway) without embracing and leveraging the unique qualities each of our team members brings.
As we contemplate the presidential election year, and consider our own families, organizations and communities, I keep thinking about how we can be more unified and more leaderly in our interactions with each other. A short list where we could start includes:
- Identifying, acknowledging and playing to each other’s’ strengths (and being honest about our flaws, which we all have!)
- Getting smarter and learning from others’ perspectives that might be different than my own
- Setting aside selfish interest for the greater good of the whole
- Being solutions-oriented instead of just a problem-pointer outer (see Brianna Johnson’s blog on this topic) so action can be taken and a real difference can be made
- Encouraging and lifting each other up when there is so much hurt and heart-ache in the world wearing us down
What would you add to my list?
I have had the thought – and have had others also say to me, “It would be easier if you just did/thought/acted just as I do.” While on the surface it may seem that it would be easier if others were just like me, the truth is that it is more difficult to progress and accomplish all the great things we aspire to if we were all the same. We are such a great country because for over 240 years we have leveraged our differences; it is time to be intentional about embracing our diversity so that we continue to accomplish great things as a nation and in our own small, every-day corners of the world.
“I’m proud to be American,” as we often hear Lee Greenwood sing this holiday. As we celebrate the freedoms we enjoy in this country this weekend, I commit to practice the inclusive ideas in this post and to truly embrace and learn from each person I encounter. How are you celebrating our freedoms and our wonderfully diverse nation this 4th of July?