One of the things that I enjoy most of my work is the diversity of profiles, personalities and talents that I have the pleasure to find every day. I grow with each client, by expanding my mind, and I understand that in front of me there is an extraordinary person. The funny thing is that I always find something about myself in each person I know, even though at the beginning I thought we were completely different.
This makes me think: How many times have we prejudged others? How many times in our life are we being judged by our gender, our nationality or our religion? One of the biggest problems facing the world today is the lack of respect and tolerance among human beings. But even worse than that is the fact that most people do not even take the time to think about how true those stereotypes and categories are. We only use them to label people before we know who they are.
At what point do we begin to label ourselves and fail to understand that we are unique people with a unique talent and we have a value to add to the world?
How to develop your maximum potential? Be authentic, you are not a label!
I do not know who is reading this article, but I’m sure you can feel familiar with what I say, because we humans like to generalize. Aha, this is a generalization! Thanks to having studied social psychology, I understand that there are certain behaviors and values that we can associate with a given group, based on age, gender, religion, culture, generation and other criteria.
I can agree that there are certain trends that describe the behavior of people belonging to a group. Such as the “Y” generation, or millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) and their need for autonomy, rejection of a certain hierarchy in the companies, which creates difficulties to keep a fixed job. Another example is cultures. For many, being Latin means being improvised and eating spicy food, Germans are associated with extreme order and discipline, Americans are superficial and consuming, Chinese seem to be extremely hardworking and even easy to exploit, the French are closed-minded, the Italians are loud and cook well, etc. But, is this 100% true? In my case, for example, one of the categories in which they have placed me are the following: Latin, female, immigrant, foreign, millennial, too young and others, each with its interpretation and limits. Now I laugh, but at some point I let myself believe that those labels represented who I was and therefore I limited my range of action and my goals.
Labels, categories and stereotypes are absolutely limiting. I think we can easily get lost in generalizations, paradigms and the opinion of other people. You are not a “category”. You have talents, skills, values and you are someone different from any other person you know. Therefore, you have a value to add to your community, your country, and the world. This value will be higher if you decide to be authentic. The more we stick to group behaviors and labels, the less we explore our capabilities, and our potential, so we will be less likely to offer the world what it needs most now.
How to strengthen teams and retain talent? Companies, focus on the person, not on their “category”
The problem of prejudices, stereotypes and the use of categories is that we forget that we should focus on individuals. We forget who the person is behind that label and tend to generalize the behaviors, since, as individuals, we also follow the behavior of the “group” to which we belong.
Many companies now face the problem of millennials, which do not seem to stay in a job for more than 6 months, and do not accept the “rules” of the company. Right, it’s a problem! But the problem is not solved by looking for a consultant who explains the sociology of the “Y” generation and how to understand everyone who carries this label. The problem will be solved the day companies focus on the person, understand their values and motivational factors and understand that they can be leaders in their own area, doing what they are best at. And this principle is valid for any generation, label or category.
The more I work with people of different generations, nationalities, genres and cultures, the more I reaffirm my philosophy:
“Be authentic, discover your talents, awaken your unique potential…only then you will find meaning and purpose in your personal and professional life.”
Let’s eliminate the labels that limit our thinking and promote tolerance and respect for others and for ourselves.