Greetings.  There are not a lot of advantages to living in a place with plenty of traffic, especially when it can take two hours to drive twenty miles during rush hour.  But there are definitely a few.  One is the chance to listen to a book on tape or a favorite channel on SiriusXM.  Yes, I’m hooked on satellite radio after only a month and a half of my free trial.  Another is the opportunity to have some “alone” time after a busy day, surrounded by thousands of one’s closest strangers who are in various stages of enjoying their own “alone” time.  And a third is the chance to see, and think about, some odd but occasionally inspiring bummer stickers.  It’s a perk that is particularly engaging when stuck in bummer-to-bummer traffic.

So yesterday as I got stuck rounding the Capital Beltway, I happened to notice the following idea:

DIFFERENT IS NOT ANOTHER WORD FOR WRONG.

Simple enough.

Yet an important reminder of the real challenge of reaching our full potential as companies and individuals.  Because, try as we might, most of us–and most of the organizations we work in–have a real aversion to “DIFFERENT.”  Different people. Different ideas.  Different ways of doing things.  Different opportunties.  Different points of view.  As a result, we tend to hang out with roughly the same people–i.e., people who are a lot like us.  And we tend to be most comfortable with ideas that fit our current understanding.  And we tend to prefer to do things the same way we’ve always done them–with a few minor tweaks or a few incremental changes along the way.  And we tend to be most interested in new opportunities that are just like the opportunities we’ve pursued in the past–similar jobs, similar collaborations, similar investments, and so on.  And we tend to be less open, the older we get, to different perspectives and points of view.

All because we equate “different” with being “wrong” or at best “less than equal.” Even when we should realize that different could be the real key to our success.

It turns out that no one ever did anything remarkable by being the same.

And no one ever stood out from the pack by fitting in.

And no one ever changed the world by daring to not make waves.

In fact, as we begin 2013, DIFFERENT should be our mantra.  Being different in ways that really matter to our companies, organizations, and the customers we have the privilege to serve.

Zeebs

We win in business and in life when we choose to appreciate people who are different than us and ideas that are different than the ones we hold dear.  And when we take the time to notice a bumper sticker on the car and the world right in front of our eyes.

Cheers and have a great and different start to the year ahead!