My buddy Robert is a person who thinks creatively and deeply, learns widely, tinkers and innovates ceaselessly, and has a heart that shone so brightly and clearly during our first encounter at a networking mixer some years ago that I asked him to lunch.
He and his sweetheart, Joanne, play a game from time to time. It’s a game like Go: very simple and very complex at the same time.
The game is to answer the question: If you had to divide all the people in the world into just two categories, what would those categories be and why?
The split is the easy part – I could do that all day:
- Those who like chunky peanut butter and those who like creamy peanut butter.
- Cat people and dog people.
- Imbibers and teetotalers.
- Those leaning toward introversion and those leaning toward extroversion.
- People with comfortable bank accounts and people for whom every dime is relevant.
- Those more focused on the means and those more focused on the ends.
- Those who tie “my own” to biology/their definition of family and those who see “my own” as all that’s huddled on this blue marble beneath the stratosphere.
You give it a swing. It’s easy, right?
But why? What would make it meaningful –truly meaningful, as in relevant to relationships and how we think about humanity, and how we apportion energy and resources – to divide people in any of these days? That’s the hard part.
We are certainly living in a world of a whole lot of “us” and even more of “them” and while my reactive self is certainly as eager as the next person’s to justify my division with fierce and arrogant certainty, not a one of us has come up with a defensible why, and my guess is not a one of us could.
This kind of overly reductive thinking – us/them, good/bad, right/wrong – is something we explore in coaching every day because, friend, dichotomous thinking is a big old blockage in the artery to our biggest baddest lives. Let me know if you’re ready to explore how coaching can support you in expanding your view.