Benefits of Learning from Those That Think Differently

Real Growth - No Pixie Dust! -Really!

In 1999 I read Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the first time.  One of the stories in that book that captured my attention was about David Lilienthal, a man that was commissioned to head the new Atomic Energy Commission.

He brought together a very diverse bunch of influential individuals. And although they had a huge agenda and the press was pushing them for results he believed that efficiency was not the first priority – synergy was. So he wisely invested time facilitating relationship building, causing them to deeply understand each other’s history, goals, passions, and perspectives and transforming a group of individuals into a passionate team.

This is how Stephen Covey describes the result: “The respect among the members of the commission was so high that if there was disagreement, instead of opposition and defense, there was a genuine effort to understand.  The attitude was, “If a person of your intelligence and competence and commitment disagrees with me, then there must be something to your disagreement that I don’t understand, and I need to understand it.  You have a perspective, a frame of reference I need to look at.”  

Since the time that I first read that book I have carried that story in my soul,always remembering the impact that real relationships had on very diverse and very powerful people.

I’m sharing this story with you to emphasize that seeking to understand and dialog with those that are strongly opposed to your convictions is not a fluffy fairy tale.

Highly intelligent and highly effective people that have taken the time to do this have developed incredible relationships, gained amazing perspectives, grown personally and professionally and made wiser decisions as a result of their shared knowledge and collaboration.

So my challenge to you continues… Will you dare to seek out those that hold wildly different views and seek to understand them and dialog with them?

  • I’m doing it too! And will share in my next post, one of the things I’m doing and what I’m learning.

In the meantime, follow this link to read about the uncommon friendship and deep respect that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg shared with Justice Scalia before his recent death. And see how their relationship impacted her professionally.

If you don’t engage those who hold dissenting opinions and viewpoints in candid and open discussions, you will struggle in developing to your true intellectual potential. Mike Myatt


Check out part III in the series here:  Breaking the Cycle of Division – Unity Begins with You!

President, Giana Consulting

Chery believes that:
• Anyone can be a leader.
• Everyone knows something that the rest of us don’t.
• We all need to leave our workplaces, communities, nation and world – better than we found them.

Those beliefs caused her to instigate change from every position she ever had and continually provided opportunities to lead system-wide change from the middle and the edge of organizations.

Her faith and my firm belief that leaders need to walk their talk were the reasons she agreed to move to a part of the world that she once feared. As an expat she embraced daily opportunities to meet and learn from people that represent the nations in our world.

Today Chery is The Founder of Giana Consulting, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

She leverages true leadership stories and expat experiences to inform, inspire and emphasize life skills that cause her clients to be more energized and productive.

THANK YOU for commenting and sharing!

YOU ARE INVITED: To add your comments and to share your professional, personal and faith-based stories. Diverse opinions, compassion, and inspiration are welcome! (I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.)

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2 thoughts on “Benefits of Learning from Those That Think Differently

  1. I don’t remember that story from 7 Habits but it’s time I take it off of my shelf once again. Imagine having so much respect for your colleague that when you’re challenged, instead of thinking “what’s wrong with them!” you think “What do I need to see?” Love it. Will share!

    ~ Alli

    • The crazy part is that I’ve remembered the story but could not remember where I read it. I had the book off the shelf recently and was thrilled to finally rediscover it!

      And yes – that is exactly what I love imagining – that we don’t have to think someone is crazy, roll our eyes or give them horrible titles, there are real world examples of engaging, respecting and learning from those that view the world from the other pole.

      Hope for all of us!

      Thanks for sharing!