When I was learning to drive, no one said that your foot had to always be on a pedal – either the gas or the brake. Maybe my dad actually said coasting bought me some time to think about the right way to handle an oncoming situation and maybe I figured it out as I gained experience. I don’t exactly recall. But I did teach my boys that you can coast sometimes.
Similarly, somewhere along the line I realized that there are more categories than right and wrong. I don’t have to put something or someone into a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ category when they are different from my own understanding of the world and I need time to think about how I think about them. So things and people that I don’t readily understand go into the different area for further evaluation.
Different isn’t a good or a bad thing, it isn’t more than or lesser than what I do feel confident that I understand. It isn’t deficient. It is just different – different than what is familiar to me, sometimes just slightly so and sometimes radically so.
I can grow to understand different. I can learn from it. If I decided that it was wrong because I didn’t understand it, then I could never hope to understand it and learning from it would be a much more difficult proposition.
My son who loves to cook asked me to give onions, specially prepared by him, a try even though he knew that I’ve disliked onions all my life. He just wanted me to move a category of onions, ones that he has prepared into the different area. I resisted. He persisted and now sometimes I eat onions. They haven’t moved into the ‘right’ category exactly, but I eat them and even allow that they add to the overall flavor of a dish.
There are things that should not go into ‘different’ – people or situations that make you less than you should be, or make you feel uncomfortable, in danger. Anything that really belongs in the ‘wrong’ space. Different isn’t meant to remove this option. Just to provide an option for an unknown that deserves an opportunity to prove it’s worth.
I think of times when I was quick to judge and came out wrong because I didn’t take some things into account. I remember a story of a long road trip, a broken gas line and some questionable looking teens who made sure that my mom and sister got home safely despite my mom judging them initially on their appearance.
Do you have a ‘different’ category where you set things aside for further consideration?
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