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Posted by Philip on 16 June 2017, 3:17 pm in , , , , , , , , ,

Diversity is hard work

When I began working for myself in 1998 I read a book — I can't remember which — that made an important distinction between hard work and difficult work. I've never forgotten it.

Hard work is about being persistent, disciplined, committed and, sometimes, working long hours (especially in the case of starting a business). Difficult work is complicated, confusing or highly technical — it takes a certain level of intellectual or specialist "grunt" to achieve the desired outcome.

I see working with diversity in a similar way. It's hard, but it isn't difficult. It requires persistence, discipline, commitment and, most importantly, awareness, empathy, generosity and courage. 

It's hard doing all that, but it's not difficult. Yet hard work is tiring and often stressful, so you need to take time to rest and recover, even to unload. In a supervision session yesterday I realised that, even though diversity is what I specialise in, I get over it sometimes. I find people annoying and complex. I disagree with people with different beliefs and values, as much as I treasure the variety they bring.

So this is something I intend to bring into my work more from now on — in my speaking, workshops and one-on-one consulting. It's easy to become pious about this kind of work — to come across as having all the answers and getting it right all the time.

The truth is I struggle with diversity as much as the next person and I need time and people to whom I can rant and rave, grapple and inquire, and with whom I can strategise about how to put things right.

All that's hard work, but it's not difficult — unless you try to ignore or deny that it is hard work. And that's ok. Ask for help. Keep going. 

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