Step Out Of Your Box
Greatness Project 2017: As I stepped off the plane I was fascinated. Behind the wall of glass were people who did not look like me, nor speak my language. It was 1966 and my family was traveling to Hong Kong where we would live and my father would work. This was just a brief stopover in Tokyo Airport, but at that moment I realized that the world I knew in the United States was not the only world and there were many other ways to think and live that I needed to learn.
Being open to others, to their opinions and ways of life, does not take extraordinary discipline. Sometimes it just takes being with them and listening. Adam Grant in Originals cites research that individuals who moved often when they were young, especially if those moves took them overseas, are more open to new ideas and different ways of living. For those of us who had that experience, we didn’t call it openness, we called it survival. Yet there is wisdom in being with those who are not like you.
Currently there is a phenomenon in the world where the fabric of society is being torn open to reveal a level of narrow-mindedness, cultural insensitivity and even hatred of anything that does not fit how some people feel the world should be. Rather than be open-minded, they live in a world of constant confirmation bias where everything they believe is true, because they won’t listen to an alternative view.
We now have the capacity to cull the news we receive to our “favorites,” to listen only to our music, our “way of life” and separate our personal world. Those who do this can easily develop hate because they refuse to see outside of their own world view. Yet, anyone who does this will gradually box themselves in and die a slow death of asphyxiation on their own breath, and their own ideas. That is not how the world survives; we need each other. The alternative is that we can be open to the possibilities around us of different culture, art, music, and ways of thinking so that we are living full lives and learning from others. There is only one way to open up and that is to make sure we step out of our own box.