Shoes, Pink Hair, and Your Perspective on Life

I recently heard a story of two business partners who had designed a unique type of tennis shoe. They invested millions in the design, the factory, the manufacturing and the marketing of these shoes. They were filled with excitement because they knew that success beyond their wildest dreams was right around the corner for them!

They had identified a particular area in Africa to launch this business. One of the partners traveled there to explore the market and was horrified by what he found. He called his business partner and said “I have terrible news. People are everywhere and NOT A SINGLE PERSON IS WEARING SHOES! We’re sunk.” To which his business partner responded — “It’s the perfect market — everyone NEEDS shoes!”

How many times do we see a similar scenario play out in our life and work? The exact same situation can be described very differently from the perspective of two different people. They say the least reliable source to describe an accident is an eye witness. Why is that? How can five of us see the same accident and report it very differently?

The answer is simple. We see life from our unique perspective which is shaped and colored by our background, demographic, beliefs and values. Some of us are wired to be more positive and optimistic, while others have the ‘grumpy gene’. Differences can be such a gift if we allow them to be. Business partners (and employees) with differences in strengths and perspective can add depth to any organization as long as there is respect and appreciation for their unique viewpoints. These two men could be the perfect business partners – one may be more adept at process and detail and the other better at marketing and business development. BOTH are essential and valuable skills for any business.

So when you encounter someone with a very different perspective or pink hair – consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there’s enough room in the world for ALL of us – not despite our differences …but because of our differences.

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