The Value You Bring

child_reflection

“Try not to become a human of success. Rather become a human of value.” 
                                                             ― Albert Einstein

 

The value you bring does not come from:

  • your title.
  • your position.
  • the buzz words you use.
  • your ability to schmooze.
  • your willingness to play political games.
  • the size of your ego.
  • the number of people you know.
  • the number of people who know you.
  • the number of presentations you have made.
  • the conferences you have attended.
  • the titles of books on your desk.
  • the number of compliments and acknowledgments you have received.
  • the hours you work.
  • the number of projects that you take on.

The value that you bring does not even come from the money you make.

Or even, the year that you were great.

________

The value you bring comes from:

  • your empathy for others.
  • your ability to leave your ego at the door.
  • your willingness to embrace the complex and say: “I don’t know.”
  • your resolve in determining, clarifying, and articulating (so everyone can understand) what matters.
  • the time you spend doing what matters.
  • the occasions you spotlight others and step back.
  • the alignment between your words and actions.
  • your willingness to roll up your sleeves and do the work.
  • your ability to say no. No, that doesn’t align with my beliefs.
  • your authentic vulnerability.
  • your willingness to change your opinion.
  • the tenderness of your heart.
  • the value you place on feedback and reflection.
  • the times you say sorry and mean it.
  • the moments you are completely present.
  • your willingness to reach across divides and hold your hand patiently.

The value that you bring may not even be noticed. But rest assured you are valuable.

________

What value do you bring?

What really matters?

Sometimes, life seems like a long list of have to’s: get the winter tires on before the snow flies, get through the pile of emails before Monday, get the house prepped for winter, and the list goes on. Sometimes, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to think deeply about what really matters. I mean, generally, we would all say similar things about what really matters. Things like: family, spending time with people we love, finding fulfilling work, and other such things. We all know in general terms what really matters. But sometimes the details around what really matters get a bit hazy, get a bit blurred. Kind of like being at the ocean, when you’re working hard to build a sandcastle and whoosh, a wave rolls in, and completely erodes the fine details. Life keeps sending us those waves.

“We can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives.” Greg McKeown

Luckily, life also presents us with moments of clarity and truth. In these moments what really matters and all the corresponding details become crystal clear. Everything else, fades into the background. These moments get you back on track or they change your perspective completely.  You probably have had moments like this in your life: looking into the eyes of a newborn baby for the first time or, feeling the mystery and wonder of this universe as you look at the night sky. 

I had a such a moment last spring, as I got to learn from a group of youth, who were speaking at TEDx Youth @DoyleAve. I could call them students but I didn’t learn from the fact that they were students. Instead,  I learned from their human-ness. Each one of these amazing humans had fought hard to create their own identity, and each had worked hard to find an authentic voice to express this identity. These inspiring humans were complete individuals and were complete long before we adults came along. All we did was stop to listen to their stories.

Their successes were not achieved by marching along the adult-centric pipeline model. You know, the elementary school, to middle school, to high school, and then university, model. Instead, each of these youth had discovered their unique strengths and indenties when they strayed away from the pipeline. 

“Students already have complete control over their learning.
Our hubris is to think they don’t.”
  -Will Richardson

From this experience, I had a moment of clarity and truth around how much I had to learn and that it wasn’t going to happen from listening to people exactly like me. I recognized that I had to move well beyond my bubble of sameness and hear diverse perspectives. 

sameness

The world we live in is becoming increasingly complex. As the challenges we face increase in complexity, these diverse perspectives and identities are becoming more essential.  Think back to the last meeting you attended and think about who was around the table. Diverse or homogeneous?

simplevs complex

If we are going to meet these complex challenges head on, we will need to assemble diverse teams. And let’s be clear: diversity doesn’t mean you have different Starbucks orders. Identity diversity includes gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.  Thanks to the extensive research of Scott E Page, we know that diversity and inclusion are not just the ethical thing to do. Diversity and inclusion are also the better thing to do when tackling complex problems. Better like bottom line better.  This intersection of what is ethical and what is better, gives us a moment of clarity and truth: diversity and inclusion ARE what really matter. 

“Diverse groups of problem solvers outperformed the groups of the best individuals at solving complex problems. The reason: the diverse groups got stuck less often than the smart individuals, who tended to think similarly.” ~ Scott E. Page

Finding one’s identity and voice and discovering your unique strengths is not just nice, not a luxury if you have time or money, but instead, it is a necessity.  Each child who enters school needs discover their unique identity and create a voice to express themselves. Each child needs to find their proverbial mountain, climb it, and say: “Hello World! Here I am in all my glory!!”

Then, they will be able to challenge the complex question: what really matters?

(This is an adapted version of my mike drop for Innovate-Ed 18, slides are below)