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Diversity Our Strength

Diversity Our Strength

By Greg Kozera–

Much is going on for us to process. We have endured 3 months of Covid-19 and lockdowns. Schools have been closed. Many have lost jobs. Businesses shut down. Some may never reopen. There is talk of a second wave of Covid-19. Vacations, meetings, return to school and fall sports seasons are in question. Will fans be back in stadiums? Sports are more than entertainment they are an economic engine providing revenue for businesses and jobs. A lot of money is spent attending college football games. Many large companies are trying to decide how to proceed. Some people are struggling to pay household bills, the rent or mortgage. People want to get back to work.

We have the tragic death of George Floyd and the aftermath. Continued racism in our country has been exposed. To see anger and hatred just turn on the TV. I didn’t expect it to hit so close to home as it did this week. I saw a Facebook post a close friend of mine from Columbus was in. She was commenting on an online post from a friend. A total stranger from the West Coast went off on her. What this jerk said to my friend sickened, disgusted and angered me. It reeked of racial hatred. My friend had plenty of on line support, including mine. We talked by phone. I know there is something comforting about the voice of a friend. I’m glad we visited.

The online jerk clearly had some anger management issues. I doubt any of the online comments people made even phased him. He may feel invincible behind his screen. I didn’t see any reason to add to the online anger. My friend knows who her friends are. There are positive, non-violent ways to handle the situation. I acted. In my experience, answering anger with anger makes a situation worse.

How do we deal with all of this stuff? It can be depressing and frustrating. It can make us feel powerless. We have probably heard the talking heads on TV and online. They seem to be good at telling us what our problems are. Especially how bad things are.

One of the keys of leadership is that leaders take responsibility. They understand taking responsibility gives them power and control. If we blame God, the virus, the Chinese, the bad cop, the government, the media or the jerk, we have given them power over us. I don’t like others to have power over me. I prefer driving to flying because when I drive I feel I have some control.

Racism and human hatred go back to the beginning of time. Just read the Bible. Humans have never been good at accepting others who are different. Remember grade school and high school. Most people tried to fit in by how dressing or wearing their hair the same as everyone else. I remember getting laughed at because we couldn’t afford the clothes the “cool kids or in crowd had”. Minorities didn’t have an option.

The Jews and Samaritans hated each other for hundreds of years. Jesus finally brought them together in Christianity. The Shiites and Sunnis have been fighting for years and they are both Muslim. The Arabs and Israelis have been at war for thousands of years. India and Pakistan have been fighting for decades. You can’t fly commercially between them. But business people find a way to work together.

The only control we have is over ourselves. We control our attitude and our actions. We can start with the person we see in the mirror. Diversity is a strength if we choose to use it. Some people may feel threatened by diversity. I never want to assemble a team with a bunch of people like me on it. That is a recipe for disaster. I want people who have strengths and abilities I don’t have. I want people who think differently and have different backgrounds. We will disagree. When we work out the differences we will have an idea better than any of us could develop on our own. As a coach, I have been blessed to be part of 5 State Championship Soccer Teams. We won because of our diversity. We had different skill sets and different backgrounds. We had common values like our work ethic and a common team goal.

America is the greatest nation on earth because of our diversity. We are a melting pot of many nations. Sometimes we may forget that. We draw on the strengths, experiences and cultures of nations all over the world because of the people who come here. My wife and I are opposites in many ways. We complement each other. What we share are common values. It is a challenge to lead a diverse team as it is to lead a diverse nation. By nature, diversity creates difficulty and challenges. Managing it is never easy. The leader needs an open mind and must avoid preconceptions. It takes strong leadership to keep people focused on the dream, the common goal. Many times, people focus on the differences. The major media is good at that. The common goal is what unites people. That is what we as individuals and as a nation need to focus on.

Many nations and groups have been at odds for hundreds of years. We are America. We are better than that. We were founded on the concept that “All men (and now women) are created equal” We have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When our attitude is to make sure that happens for all, we may find solutions to many of our problems. We all benefit.

© 2020 Shale Crescent USA

Greg Kozera, is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.