The Thick Grey Line

Thursday 17 May 2007 @ 9:46 pm

I remember as I was younger in my career, everything was black and white. My opinions were strong and quickly formed. My views sharp and my perspective decisive. As I have grown older and been exposed to more cultures and experienced the dilemmas and challenges of the world, the once thin line separating black and white has expanded to a much larger thick grey line.

Yesterday I spent some time with a young man for whom I have tremendous respect. This is a young man who is in the early stages of his career, has been bitten really hard by the entrepreneurial bug, and is creating a successful web design company. In so many ways he reminds be of myself 20 years ago. He is intensely passionate, has very strong opinion, and is insanely talented. I have every confidence he will succeed.

The lengthy discussion that I had with him yesterday, related to a moral stand that he was taking relating to what type of web sites he was comfortable designing and his willingness to decline business that did not meet his moral standards. I can not help but respect anyone who is willing to take a stand and draw personal boundaries. In this apathetic world many people have become desensitized and are not willing to step forward and stand up for what they believe to be right.

As we discussed, it became very evident that we have many of the same long term goals and value systems, however on a few points we have dramatically different views.

It caused me to reflect on those simple days and in some ways longingly wish for the ON or OFF perspective that I did when I was just out of college. That being said, I have found that much of the richness of life comes from understanding and learning the perspectives in the thicker grey line. It may be messier, but it is also more rewarding to take the effort to look at the “beast” from a different angle.

We all have different upbringings, perspectives and value systems. In life, there is no simple black and white with a thin line. It is by making the attempt to understand each others perspectives, what motivates each other, and why we view things differently that unlocks the power of great advances. The lamest and most ineffective teams I have managed have been those that were homogeneous where everyone saw things the exact same way and everyone got along. The most powerful teams I have been involved with were compiled of members with extremely diverse backgrounds and differing perspectives YET all focusing on a common goal.

Looking for solutions in The Thick Grey Line requires more focus and effort, but when you find the solutions they not only last longer, but also mean more.

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Rich Christiansen