Diversity. Inclusion. It is a hot topic now. The statistics at the source of this are stunning, but hardly new news. Women are essentially falling behind in terms of ending the gender gap was a conclusion of the LeanIn McKinsey report of 2017. There are pockets where women are making strides, but only in isolated incidents and industries. People of color continue to suffer from being left out of the boardroom and having their ideas funded. This was a topic of discussion at SXSW tech conference this week and made the news in our local paper. Maybe the #MeToo movement has woken up the drowsy dragon of inequality and real change will happen. That is my fervent hope.

What does this all have to do with you and your business or your career? I think it awakens us to a real possibility of being enriched and expanding our effectiveness.

Here is the thing- most of us surround ourselves with people like ourselves; race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, points of view. We are most comfortable with others who see life like we do. It is natural; as human beings are tribal, wanting to fit in and know we are accepted. Since it is the easiest thing to do, the path of least resistance…we do that. However, some things get missed with this point of view.

Recently, I had an experience where I got this lesson loudly. I had written something that someone got offended about. I was shocked, seriously shocked. I had taken care to have what I wrote edited and seen by others. However, what I discovered, upon examination is that I had sought out the editing and opinion of others who looked at the topic from the same viewpoint that I did. That bit me in the butt, bigtime! I learned a valuable lesson which I will never forget. That is why I am writing this today- to share it, to enrich your life and career.

See, mostly we are dealing with our careers and businesses and frankly, our lives, in an echo chamber asleep to it. When those that are like me discuss business, careers, life- well, we share similar views, so the solutions to problems are limited. We miss the richness, the input of those who are unlike us, those that see the world from a different vantage point. Perhaps the vantage point that would enlighten us to new paths, to new opportunities and new solutions.

To open the opportunity of diversity and inclusion in your life and in your career, you must get very curious as to what it looks like from someone else’s view and be willing to just listen. When listening, suppress the tendency to fit what someone else is sharing with you into comparing it to what you already know, and you will likely gain a valuable new perspective. Go out of your way to expand your professional network to people who differ from you and get into conversation and see what you gain. Besides a new perspective, you will make the world a smaller, closer and more diverse and inclusive place. That is a gift to all.