|Our grand-dogs, Ellie and Lilly|
Ellie is outgoing and eager for affection. When you walk in the door, she greets you with an enthusiastic leap in the air and plenty of licks. She never tires of being petted and likes to get right next to you when you sit down. Outdoors, she becomes transformed into a focused, determined squirrel tracker.
Lilly, on the other hand, is much more shy and reserved. She retreats from strangers and doesn’t like to be petted until she feels comfortable with you. Once she warms up to you, though, she is playful and affectionate. When she’s out for a walk, she stops frequently to sniff but never tracks animals the way Ellie does.
Their differences in personality reminded me of the wide variation that exists among humans as well.
If you lead a team of people, you want to treat everyone fairly. But you have to recognize the unique strengths, motivators and needs of each person to get the best possible performance and results. And each person responds quite differently to your style of communicating and leading.
If you’re a parent with more than one child, you may sometimes marvel at the differences in your children. You want to be consistent in your parenting so they don’t feel you favor one child over another. At the same time, you need to be sensitive to the kind of structure and discipline that supports each of them growing into their full potential.
And of critical importance, you must be aware of your own personality and individual preferences.
The lens through which you view the world can have a huge influence on the way you approach and interact with others. You could get frustrated and impatient because they don’t think the way you do or handle situations the way you would. They might make hasty decisions or deliberate too long over options. Maybe someone is too loud for your taste…or too quiet.
Whenever other human beings exhibit behaviors that are not like you, you have a choice. You can get annoyed and wish they would change, leaving yourself open to frustration and resentment. Or you can appreciate their qualities and celebrate the differences between you.
When you choose to celebrate, you open yourself up to the joys that can only come from getting outside yourself and appreciating the world as seen through another’s eyes.
"If you approach each new person you meet in a spirit of adventure, you will find yourself endlessly fascinated by the new channels of thought and experience and personality that you encounter." - Eleanor Roosevelt, American diplomat (1884-1962)