Lesson of the Week

Celebrating diversity: I honor people who are different than I am

What color is Tony the Tiger’s nose?   What word is to the left of Lincoln’s face on the U.S. penny?    You might have seen them many times, but do you really know them?

Tony the Tiger’s nose is blue.  The word is Liberty.  If you didn’t know this, are you surprised?  Now think about more complex relationships – those with friends, relatives, business associates, acquaintances.  How well do you really know them?  How is this knowledge impacting your own success?  A key to success is celebrating diversity and honoring people who are different from you.  This is done by truly understanding and knowing similarities and differences between you and others and learning how to safely and effectively be connected to them.

Augusto and Michaela Odone needed to cure their son’s rare disease Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).  They would not accept his doctor’s hopeless prognosis.  Why weren’t people coming together to help them?  Some scientists and doctors were not ready, willing, or able to share information. The Odones pestered people from diverse cultures and disciplines – reviewing studies, badgering researchers, and organizing an international conference.  They were able to accomplish what an entire profession could not do – bring together world research and give hope to children who have the ALD gene and have not yet had symptoms.  (Watch the Odones’ inspiring story.  The movie is called, “Lorenzo’s Oil”  The story is inspiring although use of the oil has not proven effective after the onset of symptoms.)  Although the oil did not reverse the damage done to Lorenzo, he lived to be thirty years old.

The Odones’ mission’s success was completely dependent on uniting diverse people – individuals with different ethnic, language, occupation, education, and ethical backgrounds.

What can you accomplish by celebrating diversity on your mission?  You might ask Roger Wilkins.  He is a successful Pulitzer Prize winning champion for the welfare of others.  He stated, “We have no hope of solving our problems without harnessing the diversity, the energy, and the creativity of all our people.”  Another champion of diversity is Tim Berners-Lee.  He is the British computer scientist who invented the World Wide Web.  He gave the world the potential to know and celebrate each other.  He wrote, “We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges.”

Take the opportunity to celebrate diversity in your mission and honor others who are different.  Here are some examples of what you can do:  Assemble a diverse group of people on your mission board, research new evidence based methods online and incorporate them into your practice, invite unlikely individuals to help you solve problems, make friends with enemies (when it is safe to do so), or open up your mission to partners from other missions.  Honor others and you too will be honored.


Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.

- Malcolm Forbes, Publisher Forbes Magazine


Activity: Venn and the Meeting of the Minds

Materials:  Paper and pen or pencil

Time:  Ten minutes to write and ten minutes for each person to discuss their results.


1. Set a timer for one minute.  Start the timer and in one minute make a list of the number of ways people can be different from you.

2.  Think of a person that annoys you and with whom you do not get along.  For example this could be a person at work, family member, friend, relative, acquaintance, neighbor, telephone service operator, a shop assistant, or business owner.  Write down an anonymous name or pseudonym for this person.

3. Draw a large Venn diagram with two intersecting circles.  Write your name above one circle and write the other person’s pseudonym above the other circle.

4.  Fill in the Venn diagram’s three distinct sections.  In the middle section, fill in ways that you are similar to this person.  On your side fill in ways you are different from the other person.  On her/his side fill in ways s/he is different from you.

5.  Discuss the following questions with the group:
a) What is the most significant way that you are different from this person?
b) What is the most significant way that you are similar to this person or share common ground?
c) How can you get along with this person and still maintain your differences?
d) How can getting along with this person improve your mission?



I am celebrating diversity so I can …… We’d like to hear your story about honoring people who are different than you are. Write your story below.