One is Never As Good As Two Should Be

Differences are the Key to Synergy and Creativity

LEGO pieces are one of the most popular toys ever. You’ve played with them. Your kids have played with them. You’ve probably stepped on the ones your kids have left out.

Can you imagine how boring LEGO pieces would be if they only came in 2×3 bricks? And were all grey? No rummaging through a pile in search of just the right piece to finish your creation. If you don’t like that one piece, you’re out of luck.

That would make for a miserable toy! Yet sometimes it seems like we’re intent on building our lives with just that one brick.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Esin Deniz

We crave Variety. It’s one of our basic human needs. If we get stuck in a rut, we will start doing anything we can to escape it, sometimes to our detriment.

We’re also creatures of habit. There is a sense of Security and Safety (also basic needs) in the familiar. We settle into our little comfort zones and arrange everything just the way we like it.

And then life happens. We can’t go it alone. We have to interact with other people. People who have their own preferred way of doing things. People who have their own needs for Variety and Safety and Security, and their own ideas of how they’re going to satisfy them. People who don’t fit neatly into our little mental model of how the world works. There’s a little Sheldon Cooper inside each of us, and we don’t like it when all the little pieces don’t fit together the way we think they should.

People share so much in common, yet are so magnificently different. They think differently; they have different and sometimes competing values, motivations, and objectives. Conflicts naturally arise out of these differences.

Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

You will always be around people who are different than you. Always. People who look different, who dress different, who talk different.

They think different. They have different ideas and ideals, different values, different likes and dislikes.

They have different definitions of success and happiness. Even when they have the same end in mind that you do, they have different ideas of how to get there.

And you know what? That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s a good thing.

When you are discussing a problem with someone, and you both have the same viewpoints on everything, one of you is redundant. You aren’t going to be able to learn anything or discover new ideas unless there are differences.

When someone is different from you, they have different strengths. They can complement your weaknesses, and you can complement theirs.

Modern society is built on these kinds of differences. Different skills, different talents, and different interests. When we come together, we can specialize in doing what we enjoy.

With just 2×3 grey bricks, you can build yourself a jail, and that’s about it. Maybe a refridgerator. But with 2,200 different shapes and sizes and fifty-five different colors, you have a lot more options. The world you build will be a lot more interesting and exciting.

Question: How do you balance the needs for Variety, Safety, and Security? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

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