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Spot the Differences Around You – Celebrate Them

Renuka Kamath

Author: Renuka Kamath

Date: Mon, 2017-01-02 22:33

Spot the differences and likely you will end up seeing many more similarities, quite like the two pictures game we play even today. What do we do? We carefully look for the differences and count them, usually six.

Isn’t life similar? Stop for a moment and look around. I did and found around me very similar beings, more a validation of who and what I am. There was a time it comforted me, it still does. Isn’t there something very comforting in seeing a validation of who we are? Reassuringly so.

All through childhood in school then college, I found myself making friends who were like me. It was so heartening when in a crowd I found at least one person who could speak the ‘language’ I did, laugh at the same things and pun away (a quality I still find stimulating in people) much to the incredulous look of others. Moreover, if what they read matched my list, that person skidded to the top of my chart! It was interesting to talk about life’s philosophies and judge people unlike us. That’s what I thought was the best yardstick to making friends – if it matched mine, we’d stick around and the bond would be stronger. At times when there was a crisis, I’d run to them and they assured me that my decision was the best and that they’d do it the same way. I argued with those who didn’t agree with me and marked them for future reference to see a pattern. 

Work life began and that was when utter strangers became my travel mates, month-end target mates but sharing the joys and travails wasn’t easy any more. Even then I found good buddies whom I could relate to, some of whom became friends for life! But slowly a change was happening. There were people around me who were so different from me. Some of them had a passion for things alien to me that left me fascinated and curious. I learned to read books that were completely out of my genre of reading. I watched movies that were uncomfortable. Did I begin accepting the differences? No! At least not obviously so.

Some of the best lessons I have learned are (and these are only a few):

  • From the cashier of a retail store on Park Street, Kolkata, who told me how the bill book works or doesn’t and let me into secrets of accounting
  • From the coolie who loaded refrigerators onto trucks, when while smoking his much needed beedi told me how stocking at the warehouse could be optimized or manipulated
  • From the theatre artist I met in Lucknow who told me how she interpreted Mirza Ghalib’s pain in his poetry
  • From the 8 year old child who told me why he holds secrets from his parents
  • From my go-getter pushy, confident sales officer, who showed me how being in sales can be fun…a riot!
  • From my student who told me why she hates going back home from the hostel
  • From another student who taught me how to enjoy the joys of sketching small stuff whenever you get the time or when life gets you down
  • From yet another student (a very special one for me) who made me go back to reading history (I detested it as a kid), made me re-visit World War II, read Greek mythology (and so much more).

...and so on. Can the people on this list get any more different? As different as they can get, somewhere the change had begun and I began accepting differences. It wasn’t easy. I look back and realise I was severe with people who were unlike me; didn’t agree with me, but they are the ones who made me who I am.

I’d say, surround yourself with people who are different and celebrate the differences. Learn to patiently accept that life can’t always give us a slide that is smooth – much like the play ground slide we glided on, during our childhood, where there was a bend or a bump to make us slow down so that we landed with a soft thump!

Let a different new year begin….

 

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Comments

We learn so much from so many people without realising it. Thanks ma'am for expressing your views on this. It's already a different day after reading this.
rkamath_226's picture

Yes Piyush, it is indeed amazing isn't it....little by little. Bit by bit...

This is something I discovered and fostered since I have been to SPJIMR. However, this article just doesn't reiterate but makes it a policy to be practiced for life. Can't thank you enough Renuka ma'am for putting it so well. You will always be a favorite professor, guide and mentor...

Dear Renuka, You can write. And how ! So, let one more person tell you Start Writing ! Waiting eagerly for your book on "This that and the other ! " Happy New Year !
rkamath_226's picture

Thanks sooo much!! Your comment means a lot to me. You have always supported me ...I know many times silently :)

Thanks for the very thoughtful blog Ma'am.We do encounter many different people on daily basis and each day teaches us a different experience. Life teaches us so many things.Every day is different and we should know the art of celebrating it.I do encounter many peoples who are very enthusiastic and have hunger & zeal to be successful in life.For them success means money.They are sacrificing many things specially their youth and social life with aiming at success and having intentions of making more and more money.For them,the aim of life is only competition. They may be right in their thought-process because in present scenario,money matters a lot.But in my opinion,if you move your focus from competition to contribution,then your life will be celebration.For me,the definition of contribution is spending time with your family and friends,having a strong social life and celebrating each day of life with your loved ones.This is real success,in my view. :)

Humans are social in nature. Persons with similar ethos make a group. Birds of same feather flock together. The world would have been a very dull place if we were all the same. Incredible diversity amongst people throughout the world has made it such a fascinating place. However, it is one of our basic human nature to align with people of the similar thoughts and way of thinking. “Flow with the flow”. It probably gives a feeling of being understood. But in order to grow and be different, one needs to learn to accept other’s thoughts as they are even if they are opposite in nature. This will happen only when we come out of our old prejudices and orthodox ways of thinking and tagging a situation. It is the inner zeal of a person that enables to accept the difference of opinion. This is an inherent trait of good leaders. Reasons of having difference in opinion can be governed by circumstances, customs, rituals, skills, knowledge etc. which differs from person to person. Respect given to such opinions and view points, benefits as it allows possibility of evaluating new line of vision and approach to a situation. No one can be sure that in a discussion, which idea may turn the table. “Ek idea jo zindagi badal de”. The right thoughts can catalyze our ability to change outlook. It may reinvent one’s identity and personality. People who listen are trusted more than those who grab the talking stick and barge straight into chatter. Trust is the grease of changing minds and listening is the key. I believe that this might be one of the reasons for conducting group activities have been considered as a part of MBA curriculum. It rationalizes way of observing and perceiving things. I firmly believe that by listening, reading one can get different ideas, perspective and the same shall improve his/ her understanding. “Step on the shoes of different sizes and then realize the ease”. So we all should be ready to accept alternate opinions & ideas at all walks and levels of life.

We all have individual upbringing and experiences so it is completely natural that we will all have differences in opinions. The world would be a very dull place if we were all of the same kind and it’s the incredible diversity among people throughout the world that makes it such a beautiful place to live in. It is very natural for a person to align with a person who is having same thoughts as his, whose views are similar. We always categorize ourselves and others continuously knowingly or unknowingly. We fall into a trap of dividing people and form perceptions about them based on our view. Whenever I feel I become judgemental, I remind myself of Shakespears quote “ Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so”. The world is a neutral place to live in, it is our interpretation about the things which leads to the thoughts about the things which we possess. Following benefits we obtain by having different kinds of people in a group or community, 1. We learn new things - People with different opinion have different thoughts. So we learn new dimensions of thinking and learn new things. 2. We make very interesting good friends - When we make friends from different culture or different country, we learn interesting facts and things from them. This froms a special bonding with them and we make interesting friends. 3. We feel better - When we resist any individual due to differences with him, we continuously engage ourselves in a cold war leading to uncomfortable atmosphere and relationships. Instead, when we accept the difference of opinion, we overcome resistance. So we feel happier, lighter, joy and satisfaction. 4. We create Win-Win situation - From the childhood to professional life, we are running through a race of life, always comparing ourselves with others and trying to put others down to grow up. Knowningly or unknowingly, self or by others. We don’t accept others so easily. But life is not a sport in which one wins and the other have to lose. Many a times both can win and both can grow. Respecting the difference of opinion and views and overcoming resistance leads to Win-Win situation and we feel happier.

Dissimilarities are the sources of knowledge. Different colours are necessary in life otherwise life would be like black and white. Dissimilarities are the colours of life. There is a word called “white torture”. Imagine that there is no colour around you other than white. In olden days, this technique was used with enemies. It was to torture them mentally and they were purposely kept in white cells where there was no other colour. Thus person would become mentally unstable to such an extent that he would lose his memory and would not be able to identify people around him. Same is the case with similarities. If everyone sings the same song, there would never be melodies. If everyone had the same story, there would never have been great epics. If every writer or philosopher had the same thought, world would never had such a rich literature. This reminds me of one of the training I had attended where we were asked to sit in a group of five. All five of us were from different domains of work and we were asked to list out as many uses of rose as we can. I could just list out seven uses with individual effort but when that activity was discussed in group of five we came out with sixty nine uses. It was everyone’s different thought process which came out with this result. All of us are unique and it is because of this uniqueness that the world has variety. Absolutely, not necessary, that we all should converge at one point. But yes, we all should agree to disagree.

“My experience is that the teachers we need most are the people we’re living with right now.” ~Byron Katie You are a unique individual, and the lessons you have learned over the course of your life make you a unique teacher. I have always been of the opinion that the people around us are our teachers. Specifically, I have always seen what I perceive to be negative traits in others as opportunities to develop patience or kindness toward them. I see it as a struggle they are going through, and if I can be patient or kind, then that helps them. It also teaches me how to embody those qualities even when I don’t feel like it. It gave me the opportunity to develop on my other qualities. We should learn to celebrate the difference as the things will not always happen your way. If we appreciate the difference and learn to respect them, we will realize that unknowingly we are progressing. High achievers learn from every experience, not merely from formal learning opportunities, such as attending seminars or reading books. The lessons you can synthesize from your many experiences are invaluable. By being willing to share what you have learned and by listening to others whether through informal chats or more formal encounters, such as seminars, you’ll contribute/gain greatly to the success.

Ma’am you have the hit bull’s eyes as your narration reminds me of one of the most important experience of my childhood, where I was always fascinated by the kids who were different from me by way of their sense of humor, their skills of storytelling, their outspoken nature etc. But I could never mingle with those guys and always found myself lagging in these skills. Maybe, I was living in my comfort zone and was ignoring the lessons, life was offering to me but now when time has come and it’s a question of sustenance I have to come out of my comfort zone and have to do something different …the “different” I was ignoring earlier..

Well thought ma’am, we always want to be in comfort zone, accepting differences and aligning would be wonderful whether in politic, business, family & personal life… in a broader sense the society we live in should have been progressive and constructive had there been alignment of differences, through SPJIMR blog let us take this powerful message to the masses…

If a person is made to eat same food over and over continuously for days, eventually he will get fed up of it, even if the food served was his favorite once. Same is with life any one will get fed up of a redundant life. All of us need different changes and experiences to be able life a joyful life. Even the pani-puri wala around the corner serves 6 different flavors of pani... For my PGEMP from my organisation, I had two offers to select from one with a top B school of nation, a program designed specially for L&T employees and second from SPJIMR, where the batch in which I will be studying will be a mix batch with participants not only from L&T but from other organisations also. And I choose SPJ, not because of its name, the other B-School is higher ranked, but for the chance to learn from DIFFERENT experiences of participants coming from different fields. And yes after 6 months into the course I am happy i took the correct decision...

I would like to compliment the way how you presented this topic which some way or the other is related to everyone’s life. When we grow older, we gradually get disconnected from the surroundings and try to disassociate ourselves from the others whose way of thinking deviates from ours. Though we meet different kind of personalities, we unknowingly get attached to the person/group that has similar views and style like ours. But I can recall from my own experience that the majority of the learning comes from the strangers or from the people having completely contrasting personality than what we have. We should not purposely miss a single conversation with a new acquaintance or any learning experience because these are the opportunities which we may not get later. I believe that we can learn something from every person we meet. Taking a cue from this, hope I will be more open to new personalities in life and keep the learning spirit high in this New Year.

Its a mind boggling thought from you ma'am, It is obvious that learning is continuous phenomena and one can rejuvenate its learning skills and knowledge only by engaging with different people with different knowledge and skills. It imparts exuberance when we deal with different personalities both in personal and professional life which bolster our knowledge level in different field. Someone had rightly said " Explore yourself by exploring the differences around You"

The subject of the blog is so relevant that I couldn’t stop myself reading it. And the content made me feel tempted to add something to it, in whatever measure I could. The title of the article consists of 2 stages in itself – one is to spot the differences in the people around you and two is accepting the differences, celebrating them and moving on. The easiest co-relation with the subject is something that we have been taught since our childhood – to look at our own fingers, identify that none of the two out of five are the same, accept the fact that it is how they are supposed to be and move on. The same philosophy applies to the people around us – the ones whom we live with, the ones whom we deal with frequently or infrequently, the ones we work with. The earlier we understand this, the better. And believe me it does affect our behavior, our approach towards a relation, our attitude towards somebody. The differences that we see and experience with the people around us can mainly be attributed to the differences in the basic nature of each person, their upbringing which moulds their thoughts, attitude, etc. Quite a number of times, it happens that a person behaves in a manner which is not natural to him, but he is forced to do it by the situation that he is in. Even such differences can be accepted by giving people space to react to their circumstances. Rather than trying to change people the way we want them to be, lets absorb the differences cheerfully and keep moving. It would be easier to appreciate the differences if we could tag them as a VARIATION…not differences.

Really interesting blog maam. It reminds me all my childhood friends with whom we used to search similarities. It is true that we realized later in life that differences will be the way of life and accepting them makes our perspective wider . There are lots of things from different people, we can learn, to make our life more meaningful.

First of all, a big thank for taking through the childhood days. You have narrated a very simple way for not only accepting the differences but also to enjoy it. Change is the only permanent factor where we observe differences in our daily life. We can celebrate our life more meaningfully when we welcome differences. In our busy life, we must practice this consciously. We must spread the wisdom of love to everyone instead of counting the differences. Life is short, love all and get loved. Let the celebration happen on every day of our life.

Great article madam. However small or big the differences are, spotting the differences and embracing those are the way of growing up to next level. We, the human being always search for similarities in everything, ignoring the enriching knowledge lies in differences. We should learn from the passionate teachers across all sects of society whose true words/wisdom is accrued through setting a learning curve.

Thanks for taking us back to our old golden childhood days and reminding us how we used to enjoy identifying differences in the picture (which sometime I do now as well but secretly), with time we have started living with people, situation which are similar, we like to go out with same set of friends (even FB says I have 500++ friends), taking same route to office (which has more traffic or even bumpy road), eat almost same coffee during breaks, I believe this is because we all like to remain in our comfort zone and not to try different or do things differently and yet many complaint about monotonous life, if we break that monotony and start doing new things we will see a different prospective of things. Once we come out of our comfort zone we start experiencing more, gaining more, I believe by doing things differently we increase our horizons of learning and experience. As rightly said by Shiv Khera “winners don't do different things they do things differently”. Thanks for the insight :-)

The idea of the blog is very thought provoking, beautifully written and I would like to present my views on this subject. Why it is always the case that, we prefer similarity yet aspire to be different? We always try to find similarity amongst the diversity. But why is it so? May be it is because we trust what is known. However brave we are from body and mind; deep in our heart we always seek the warmth of known. Gradually we build a world of our own by selecting all that we trust. We feel safe, we feel comfortable, and we feel protected. Protected from what? From adversities and uncertainties. Then why do we want to be different from others? Is it just because we want to be successful or because we seek superiority and recognition? The answer in my opinion is No. The relentless thirst for learning something new which we acquire right from the day we take birth guides this trait. Then how do we resolve the apparent paradox. We trust similarity, we trust resemblance because they build our strength and we seek to stand apart, because we want to exploit that strength and become stronger tomorrow. Though it is the nature of a person to sink into a comfort zone by spotting similarities, the inner zeal of learning which is imbibed into one’s upbringing drives the person to be different as the learning medium is different for everyone.

Mam, your article is one of the few which made me read it completely in a stretch in recent times. The detail in which you learned from the most common things is the one which most people miss for obvious reasons relating to dissimilarity. Also, this particular sentence - “I look back and realize I was severe with people who were unlike me; didn’t agree with me, but they are the ones who made me who I am.” – has actually struck a chord with me. As a social animal, we learn many things from others and interests are the ones which make us alone. We mostly spend our time with people who are in sync with our interests. This does more harm than good. This narrows our knowledge horizon to a level that we don’t even recognize. Life teaches you more than what you learn in a typical learning environment. We would learn new things only from people who are very different from us and every new learning should be a celebration for us. This is one main reason why most B-schools insist of learning from diversity. Accepting difference is actually the key to a happy life. This comes up with least expectation and makes us more accommodating.

Being comfortable with the differences around you is vital for success and more importantly happiness in life. This is a really deep message, conveyed and explained in the most lucid manner in this blog. We always look around for people similar to us in one or multiple dimensions. We feel comfortable around them as the tendency to have friction in thoughts, beliefs, behaviours, etc. are minimized. It allows us to be as we are and we love that. This phenomenon has been explained by a certain renowned physicist as the “State of Inertia.” To change ourselves is difficult and hence we resist it as much as we can and when this decision lies with us we mostly tend to choose the easier path. Hence when we are forced to take the difficult route i.e. the one where we are required to collaborate, interact and work with people different from us we feel uncomfortable which can eventually lead to poor performance on our part. We consider it as a bane when actually it is a boon for us. It gives us an opportunity to get a difference perspective of the world around us, it gives us an opportunity to learn something new and thereby an opportunity to better ourselves. Ma’am, you have given some great examples of how we can find a teacher in anyone we interact with, only if we keep an open mind. Some of the biggest ideas in this world has come from people who had been considered to be different in their times. If only we are able to open ourselves to such different viewpoints, we can acknowledge such rule breaking ideas and possibly learn a few things in the process.

Thank you madam for sharing such an insightful blog. Every person in the world is unique. It is not only our genes that separate us from other but it is our thought process which we develop over the years and is influenced by our upbringing & interactions with others. There is a saying “Opposites attract” but I disagree with this view. We always bond with the people with whom we share some personality traits. People feel comfortable in the company of persons who share their likes and dislikes which forms the basis of their relationship. As Birds flock together for companionship and to keep the predators at bay, humans form bonds to satisfy their primal need of sense of belonging and develop a comfort zone. However this causes our opinion to be skewed in a particular direction since we do not know any better. We tend to cling to our comfort zone where we feel most confident and often, least challenged. But it is necessary to change this attitude since from experience I’ve realized that only good can come from leaving your comfort zone. The feelings of initial fear always pass, and one likely accomplish something new and positive. If nothing more, one’ll experience a feeling of accomplishment for doing something he/she initially feared. It is only when we interact with people with contrary point of view, our horizon is expanded and our real growth commences. In school my teacher had explained strength in diversity by giving the example for our fingers. She had mentioned no two fingers are the same as each have a unique purpose but when they come together as a fist their strength multiplies. Similarly when you interact with folks having different point of view you gain new perspective and develop a holistic picture which improves your knowledge base and gives more tools to tackle any problem. Hence it would be a better world if we accept the differences of other and cherish them.

Dear Ma’am, your article is very representative of what I've experienced in my life and reiterates my belief. As a child, I made friends with those who I could find similarities with, those who shared the same interests, and anyone who was a little different – would be the odd one out. But even in the friends with similarities, I wanted to be the leader, the alpha male. Growing up with these similarities would turn friendships sour, as the majority would want to be the alpha males. Can there be more than one alpha male in a group? I did not feel so at the time. Moving to college, was what changed my perspective in life, I drew away from similar people, as I considered them competition. I met new disparate personalities, each having a uniqueness not prevalent in the others. Let me share some examples: I was in a boy’s school, talking to girls scared me, here comes “x” a charmer with the ladies. He constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone to take on something that I would have otherwise brushed aside. An army kid got me into the habit of running marathons, something that at that time was the last thing I would have participated in. Interaction with diverse people from across India during those four years completely changed my outlook and perspective on how I looked at things. I developed interests and traits that I possibly would not have if I had surrounded myself with people akin to me. Each one is an alpha male but more often it leads to fascination and curiosity because the personas are so different. Being with people who share different interests from me have helped me to gain a plethora of knowledge and opportunities that let me bungee jump off a cliff or skydive from 14,000 feet. Thank you for sharing such a lovely article. For a new beginning

Thanks maam for writing such a wonderful article. It made me realize how different kind of people have made contributions in my life and helped me to become who I am today. The thought always crossed my mind whenever I achieved or learned something new from a person who is completely different from me and that too when I least expected to learn anything from that person. People say that opposite attracts but when it comes to making friends, we keep running from people who are different from us, we feel uncomfortable with them but most of the life learnings come from these people because they help you to explore that part of your life that you thought never existed. They help you to explore new talents that are hidden inside you. Differences are the best teacher. One thing that I am completely convinced of is this that different people awaken different beasts in you. Sometimes the differences will be the key reasons for the existence of a relationship. It is always good to have a friendship with people coming from different cultures, social backgrounds, and belief system.

The world is all but an eclectic blend of ones persona reflected by numerous moving mirrors that go by the adage “The world is all how you see it”. Yet how do we find something other than what we seek? The author uses a lucid illustration of a childhood pastime of spotting the differences to depict that we first find similarities while looking for differences. In this competitive world where every other tries to differentiate right from the grass root level only to find that it is all the same inside .I would recall the TED talk “Everything is connected” by Tom chi, who gives a scientific perspective for the divine connection between the higher humans and lowest of bacteria to reflect upon the similarities we share in sustaining life as we see it. We refuse to accept this initially and that keeps the quest alive to mingle with those of likes and validate ourselves. The author quotes the yardsticks of similarities are as conspicuous as speaking a common language, reading a common book and other similar hobbies which formed a base for gossips to strengthen her relationships with her similar peers only to realise later, that these physical traits are of little help to befriend a different set of people and the joys and travails diminish in the way. She mentions that she marks those who differ, only to check the patterns, moving on in future to find that whom she thought to be strikingly different went on to be her best buddies for life. This reinforces the fact we are all the same inside and all that needed was to peek into ones inner self to establish that divine connection. She quotes anecdotes with people whom she perceived as different offered her so much to learn and cope with their dissimilarities starting from a porter to that of students, kids and artists. Were they all similar? or in what way they were contrastingly similar, to strike a chord with the thoughts of the author moving her from her stereotyped zone. Every difference we perceive in the world is a manifestation of our contrasting hidden self, that occasionally stands out of our usual behaviour and make us realise that we are no more different while we experience it. I am sure the author would have such a realisation in at least a few of the occasions in her life to reach the point of indifference on the contrasting resemblances, which she rightly relates to the bumps on a slide to ensure a soft landing.

Mam, very thoughtful message is given to us. While going through your article, a thought just crossed through my mind, Does different matters? Are we really found similarity while spotting difference? When I bought a new car, suddenly I found so many cars like my car on road whereas prior to day I had never noticed such thing. I feel that human mind spots more for similarity and not for difference. In two picture game we put efforts in finding what difference is. What would have we done if game is of finding similarity? We befriend with person who is similar to us. We try to be away from different person. But is this possible every time? What can I do when unknown person came as my room partner on very first day of college? What can I do when I posted thousands of kilometres away from home? Facing to difference is part for life. Above said difference is actually changed, sometimes forced, to me be similar with other person. Some time I changed whereas sometimes person in front of me changed. Change is dependent on persona of person. In hostel, I changed my partner. In office, boss changed me. There is factor of power which also forces you to change. As you rightly said, did we accept the difference as it is? Obviously not! Many a times it happens as it is. This natural acceptance happens when we like the difference subconsciously. I feel that difference matters only when we see it differently. When I go in catholic wedding, kissing of newlyweds is different for me but it’s acceptable to me and everybody around me. When I go in Hindu marriage, kissing of newlyweds may be taken as something strange. Even though I like it but cannot say for everyone around me. I started to embrace & celebrate the difference. Sometime this accepted difference turns out to be harmful and I immediately shed it away. You will find many a times this accepted difference is positive and building you personally and professionally. If you started to see difference as a fun, it will not matter to you. It’s enjoyable, try it!

It’s so simple, had the rainbow been monochrome would we feel so romantic about it. I have been travelling around the world since I was 18 (I am a mariner by profession). Before joining each ship I would pray to have an Indian compliment, especially the cook. But as the years passed by I started enjoying interacting with different people. If I can use food as a simile, now I am so comfortable with all kinds of food, be it Japanese, Korean, Russian, Croatian or African. Similarly I am comfortable with different people, be it a Romanian fitter who taught me over head welding or a Turkish pump man who taught me to dismantle and assemble a pump. Difference is Cultures, Attitudes, workstyles evolve us as human beings, we learn different languages (we always start with the cuss words), different practices. When we start accepting these difference then only we can come out of our figurative well and not be the frogs. By accepting difference I, in no way mean to compromise with our self-esteem or morals, but to do a task there might be a different way if not better, and as humans we must recognize that and accommodate it to reach the common goal.

Good read, Renuka Ma'am. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I'd like to share mine too, here. While I was at the SPJIMR campus, I came across so many new people, few of them double my age and it's really fascinating to attend lectures, study and let along with them. They help me give a whole new perspective to life as I see many of them still studying and trying to learn new things even at this stage of life whereas I, being the youngest one in my batch. It really feels great to be surrounded by people who are smart and more importantly, inquisitive in nature. It has been a wonderful experience by far and hopes this continues to be so. SPJIMR has given me an opportunity not only to learn via the classroom lectures and exam but also by the helping me understand people's perspective, nature, and mindset based on the culture they belong to. Meeting new people is always great and me being working as a Salesperson since the start of my career, it has been an amazing journey when it comes to meet and interact with different people every time in every meeting. Being associated with different age groups has allowed me to improve upon my weaknesses and be more confident about myself. Having said this, I feel there is always a learning opportunity waiting to be unlocked when a person is traveling. In this era of digital, sometimes it is helpful to keep our ears and eyes open and just observe things around us. Who knows, if it might bring out a new start up idea to make this world a better place.

Renuka Mam, this is a thought that is increasingly pertinent to our times. This takes me back to the time I was watching this stand up gig by Vir Das . It was against a backdrop of the increasing racist attacks in the united states. So he shared this very poignant story of the time he was surfing in Tamil Nadu with a couple of his friends . The cohort included some Hispanic and black people too. So he said " While we were enjoying ourselves, a tamilian local fisherman saw our black friend and got so excited that he started shouting -look black, he blacky - he even went to the extent of calling his children out of the house and pointing at this friend all the time muttering-blacky, blackety black. Now this TAMILIAN fisherman hardly being racist since he was almost of the same color! But he was pointing out the differences in them both." Vir Das , further says,:" The whole homophobic, racism ,LGBT abuses and the like exists only because we try and look for similarities , when we should celebrate the differences. " I concur with him and with you Mam on this. The celebration of differences help us grow as a society. In differences , in the unity of these differences lies our strength..for what good -to use an oft repeated cliché-would the hand be if the five fingers would have been the same and what good an organization be if all its members can do just one thing. In the words of the great feminist Audre Lorde, "It is not the differences that divide us. But it is our inability to recognize ,accept and celebrate those differences". As a society we must realise and accept that different is OK..Different is good. Only then would our women have an equal standing, only then would our homeless have shelter, only then would our hungry be fed and only then would we be truly free..

Ironically when I was reading the article, I was wondering how much similarity there is between the words in this article and the thoughts in my head as it is my outlook towards life. Judgement is a part of our thought process and in that slight moment of judging others by small differences that they possess we end up either not talking to them or hating them without actually knowing their side of story but if in that moment of judging, we spot the similarities that we have with an individual, not only we like that individual but also make them a part of our life but later when we find out differences with the same individual, we overlook those things as that person is now a part of our life. There may be some similarities between individuals but the cup of differences will always remain more and no matter how well we know an individual, we can never ever know what goes on in anyone else's life but our own because every person on the planet is unique and exclusive in their own individual ways. Still when it comes to making friends or meeting new people we will still look for similarities but what is important to know is that maybe we find comfort in the company of people we know but we find experience and lessons in the company of strangers and when we want to grow as an individual, we must step out of our comfort zone sooner or later. And it is not something very difficult because at the end of it, we overlook all the differences and find comfort in all the situations. Take your parents, for example, there is always a generation gap that exists between parents and their children but still, they both find the utmost comfort to be with one another, don't they?

The blog is brimming with a positive outlook and refreshing tone. It in itself is quite easy to understand but the message it wants to convey is quite profound. I understand that celebrating the differences is easier said than done. All along our life we have seen differences as an obstacle to move ahead. We have been groomed to look for similarities and “spot” the differences as if differences were an anomaly of some kind. We have created a mental wall around us to see differences as our adversaries. Recognising the differences and learning to respect them is the first step to shatter that mental blockade. Nature has its own way to tell us: “opposite poles attract each other”. Once we become open and welcoming to differences, a completely new world pops up in front of us, a world which would have remained a blind spot for us forever. It is now when a person really starts learning. All that one has been doing in a particular way is being done differently by other persons. That moment one realises that even though one is efficient at what he does, there might be multitude of ways to do the same thing more efficiently. It takes a learning mind to really appreciate the beauty of differences. The perks of being in company of people who are different from one another are amazing. There will be difference of opinions many a times but it then leads to discussions which eventually broaden one’s horizon. There is something to learn every time. If different kinds of people work in a team, they will bring a better result as team will complement the strengths and weaknesses of one another. There will be different perspectives to view the same problem and hence solution would be comprehensive. Keeping above in mind, we must learn to embrace differences as they are only meant to pull us up rather than to push us down.

Unexpectedly when I was perusing the article, I was thinking about how much comparability there is between the words in this article and the contemplations in my mind. As it is pretty much my standpoint towards life. Judgment is a piece of our point of view and in that slight snapshot of passing judgment on others by little contrasts that they have we wind up either not conversing with them or detesting them without really knowing their side of story yet in the event that at that time of judging, we recognize the likenesses that we have with an individual, we like that person as well as make them a piece of our life yet later when we discover contrasts with a similar individual, we ignore those things as that individual is presently a piece of our life. What's more, there might be a few likenesses between people yet the measure of contrasts will alway stay increasingly and regardless of how well we know an individual, we can never at any point comprehend what goes ahead in any other person's life yet our own particular on the grounds that each individual on the planet is one of a kind and selective in their own particular individual ways. That being stated, still with regards to influencing companions or meeting new individuals we to will in any case search for similitudes yet what is critical to know is that possibly we discover comfort in the organization of individuals we know however we discover understanding and lessons in the organization of outsiders and when we need to develop as an individual, we should venture out of our customary range of familiarity sometime. What's more, it is not something exceptionally troublesome in light of the fact that, toward the finish of it, we ignore every one of the distinctions and discover comfort in all the situations.Take your folks, for instance, there is alway an era hole that exists amongst guardians and their kids yet at the same time, they both observe the most extreme solace to be with each other, isn't that right?

Ma’am, thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of cherishing differences around us. I believe in this day and time of the world, this topic needs a lot of attention and discussion. Our country is a great example of how different identities can come together and make a successful single identity. It is a human tendency to stay with someone who has a similar train of thought, habits etc. But to meet people, who are different from you like chalk and cheese, is a different ball game altogether. Life is a big box of surprises and you don’t always get what you are hoping for or are prepared for. But I feel that’s where the fun lies and that is how one grows and learns. Your blog definitely teaches us that in this journey of life, we will meet different people from all walks of life and that is something that will change us, usually for the better. Until now, I have stayed within my comfort zone, but leaving the city I have lived all my life and coming to this city has made me open and more accepting of different things and people. I realized that however different we might seem from each other, we all had our own set of fears in this new environment. What helped us all was accepting this similarity and working to overcome it together. Each one of us had something to contribute and together we were successful in making this city our home. In the end, cherishing the differences is just about treating one another with kindness and with love. Also, I feel it needs to be taught from early on- taught not just in schools, but at homes, by our parents, friends, their parents, and all the people around us. Children have a great ability to grasp the ways of life by what they see around them and by the age of 4-5, a child’s mind starts noticing the differences around them. Teaching them to cherish those differences from then on will make this world a better place to live in.

Today when I read this blog I could see how aptly this issue fits in our condition. We are going outside the circle of people who have lived in the same society as us and grew up in similar culture. The amount of difference we encounter will be way higher than that in India and your blog gives a very feasible solution to deal with that. So thank you for this. When I think about difference the thought that strikes me instantly is about the fact that all of us might have studied that all humans have 99.9% identical genes. This shows that we humans are only 0.1% different. Then is it not good to be different and have some characteristics that make you stand out or be around people who show you different sides of life? Though difference may not necessarily just be in terms of skills or attributes. It could be difference in thoughts, religion, even our way of living. If we see around ourselves, then we will realize that we look different, think differently, speak differently and probably carry out all the basic activities differently. Then where does the point of finding similarity come from? It comes from our need to relate to our surroundings, want to belong to a person, caste or community. It comes from the primal need to find comfort. If we find people who have similar tastes and preferences like ourselves, then life is easy. We don’t need to explain why we like what we like, why we think what we think and why we speak what we speak. But if we look back at our life experiences, then most of our lessons and teachings are from instances when we went out of our comfort, be it trying something different or meeting different people. As you also described using the various live examples. So here is the dilemma, being similar is good or being different? If we again read the fact that I stated in start of the article then we may realize that there is hardly any difference between people scientifically. Well but we humans are good at finding that’s not really there significantly. So if we find differences, then won’t it be good to cherish them?

Life in a B-school is like living in the world where every single person is unique and different from us in the best possible way. People with diverse qualities and even different attitude from us are what make an MBA life worth remembering. The reality is that the people who are different from us are actually the ones from whom we learn the most. Ma’am, sharing your life anecdote with us and how you actually transformed from being severe with people not like-minded to making them friends for lifelong was really enthralling. The impact that you wanted to give through your idea reached us with even greater amplification. That is what the quality of good writer is. This is inbuilt in human nature that whenever we go to any new place, the first thing that we look for is any person who is from our region or can be linguistically same like us. We even start judging those people who are different from us but for being a good manager, that is what we are here for, we should be fair enough with every differences. Three months have passed in SPJIMR, and if I just ponder over all my undertakings whether it’s any assignment, competitions, performance or even hanging out, it’s all with the people who are no way similar to me. I have never judged anyone with their face value or any sort of region or race. I get the perception only when I have talked to that person. Even then I don’t create distance, instead I take it as a challenge to understand the person in their way. So that’s the point I want to make, instead of commenting on anybody we should take their differences as an opportunity for us to improve ourselves to adapt to any situation or a person’s behaviour. We need to have diverse knowledge of everything and thus with differences around us we come to know about different place, culture, music, food. Isn’t the difference the pre-requisite we crave for when we go out for shopping? Generally the brands that we have in our mind will more or less serve similar quality but we ask for something different. We continuously pester the shopkeeper by saying, “Please show something different, they are all same” Then why aren’t we ready to accept the same truth when it comes to human beings? Maybe we are scared, we are envy of the people who do something totally in a unique way. We follow the rule “survival of the fittest” but the real problem is concealed in our mentality. Why do we consider ourselves less capable when we compare with someone else? Instead why don’t we try to gel the differences together and try out something amazing. Being optimistic and opportunistic can help us to change our mind-set instead of fearing and loathing our own species. If we can blend each others’ differences like the packed raisins in cookies, then the world will be more like an exciting puzzle to solve rather than a trap to fall into.

Thank you, Ma’am, for bringing this perspective up. In fact, in line with the subject of this blog, this unique perspective which transforms competition into a contributing factor, is worth celebrating. In this complex world dominated by cut-throat competition, we are often taught that the ultimate goal is to win. Perspectives of other people are perceived as threats & in such situations, there is no scope of learning. To counter this perception of “threat” that we have already developed in our minds, we seek cartelisation. People who share similar ideas, thoughts, views, habits, etc. attract each other like a magnet & unconsciously a cartel is formed. We seek solace in this group of like-minded people and this ultimately narrows our horizon. But there is a trick in the trade that most of us fail to understand. Like poles of two magnets always repel each other. Conversely, unlike poles attract each other. Humans should also follow this approach (not in a strict sense though). What I mean is, it is not wrong to be in the company of like-minded people who provide a comfort zone, but at the same time it is necessary to be with people, who in your opinion, believe in completely opposite ideas. A path full of disagreements, constructive conflicts & effective learning is opened when two opposite people interact. Take, for example, two completely opposite people – a workaholic & an idler. Both of them would want to avoid each other. But for personal growth & success, it is imperative for both of them to interact with each other. When interaction happens, the idler might learn the importance of working & the workaholic might learn the importance of relaxing. One may argue that it is easier said than done. And that there is no need to come out of your comfort zone. But the reality is, there is no such concept of a “comfort zone”. The biggest trait that every living being possesses, by birth, is adaptability. Survival of the fittest is the “mantra” & that is possible only when we learn to adapt. Throughout our lives, we come across lakhs of people with different mindsets. Our first defensive reaction is to protect our interest & to do so, we downgrade the ideas, thoughts & viewpoints of other people. Instead, to broaden our horizons, we must adapt to the situations. In my opinion, the process to be followed is – accept the difference, critically analyse it & then form an opinion to enhance our learning. I write on this point of being with different people from my own past experiences. I used to travel a lot (not only as a part of some work assignment or leisure but daily bus/train travel included). In this journey, I have interacted with some people whom I hated post the interaction. But, in hindsight, I can say that such completely disagreed arguments made me think & act rationally. They stimulated the grey areas of my mind which otherwise were in a state of inertia. So, go ahead, and celebrate this festival of differences, throughout your life!!!

There is indeed something very comforting in seeing a validation of who we are. Thank you, ma’am, for posting something that resonates with everyone, be it a college kid or a working professional. There are 2 themes that I encountered in the blog. The first theme talked about finding the right people in your life in terms of wavelength and compatibility and the second theme talked about embracing differences. Starting with the first theme, we are on this constant quest to find the same people like us. The phrase, “Birds of a feather flock together” conveys the essence of the first part. As human beings, our natural instinct is to be drawn towards like-minded people. This attraction depends on demographic factors such as culture, geography or could also depend on social factors such as interests, hobbies or choices. It gives us a sense of security in being around like-minded people, a sense of being accepted and being loved, a fundamental craving for all humans alike. The second theme identifies the need to accept differences as a measure to improve ourselves and reach new thresholds in life. Each individual, as a matter of fact, is different from another. These differences arise due to several factors, ranging from social status, economic status, upbringing, culture, religion etc. Though it may be comforting to stay with like-minded people, interacting with people who are different teaches us a lot more in life. It opens us up to ideas we never considered in the past, shows a different approach towards life. However, because of our preconceived notions about everything, we end up judging people left, right and centre, losing out on a lot of things we could have learnt. Citing the most recent example from my life: the three months I have spent at SPJIMR. Right from moving away from my comfort zone, to teaming up with people I’ve had differences with, celebrating festivals I never deemed as important, I have begun to look at things with a whole new perspective. Sure, having dissimilarities with people can be frustrating at times, but then again, won’t life be too monotonous if everyone had the same take on things as you did? All in all, I believe life has a lot to teach us, in the form of people we come across. Every person has a story to tell, a word of wisdom to impart. Some people we meet stay forever, some do not, but I believe that is the real beauty of it. Now that I look back, I realize I have learnt so many lessons from people I’ve met throughout my journey so far. I’d say keep yourself open to new people and newer ideas, for you may never know when a great one comes across!

What wonderful words and what a novel way of looking at the world! Mam, I thank you for opening my eyes to the intricacies of human interaction. It was the title of the piece that first caught my eye. It brought back pleasant memories from my childhood. When I was young, my evenings were spent sitting by the balcony solving puzzles after puzzles from the mounts of books our grandfather used to bring us. Out of all the puzzles, the one that most interested me was ‘Spot the difference’. It always fascinated me, the way the differences would hide in plain sight. On the surface, both the images are the same but looking closer, the differences are clear and that makes the images divergent. Every human is different and by extension, their thoughts, their way of living and their outlook towards life also differ. I would like to derive this subject from what I was taught in school-to observe the fingers and to identify the differences. The lesson here was to understand the importance of each finger attributed by the differences. The people around us are walking-talking books. They are, each, an opportunity for us to learn, to grow and to evolve. As with you, there are people in my life who have left an indelible mark on my personality.Will Rogers hit the bull’s-eye when he said that “People's minds are changed through observation and not through argument,” I have learnt a lot through observation and your words just gave validation to this fact. Looking back, I realise that for the most part of my life, I have been with like minded people which worked great back then. Like in the article, it was only when I befriended new people at ILP and workplace, I got exposed to an altogether new world consisting different genre of music, books and different travelling interests. It is true that we like to surround ourselves with people who tend to agree with us. But a little disagreement, a different viewpoint can change the face of a game. In a project, people with the same disposition are inclined to think in the same way; this would mean that all the alternative ways in which the project can be developed are not explored. Not to mention, a friendly banter while trying to argue one’s point sets the adrenaline pumping like nothing else. Just like in your article, I wish to celebrate the differences around me by penning it down here – the lady in my coach who offered vada-pav to the railway-coach vendors every day and taught me what caring truly is, the delivery head of my previous company who reflected upon simple things in his life and came up with great learnings in his blogs, the transgender in the railway coach who entertained and made everyone smile and many more. No matter what scale of differences exist, only when they are acknowledged, do they provide a new outlook on things and thus learnings for life.

Dear Ma’am, I loved the way you have described what similarities and differences offer to us in life. I was drawn to the article because I also appreciate and believe in the varied perspectives that we get by surrounding us with people who are different from us. It is ironic that I was excited to see a ‘similar’ thought process in the article, and not a ‘different’ one. Would I have been so excited if the article was titled “Spot the similarities around you – Celebrate them”? I hope I will be. I was able to relate to the article so much because I also grew up looking for similarities in my friends during my childhood. I enjoyed being around people who had similar perspectives and we discussed how our ‘wavelengths matched’. Just like in your case, my work-life made me realize what I was missing in life. For the first time in life, I met people with diverse opinions and perspectives, and I was excited. I argued and debated, and I realized I learned more every time. I was not intimated or nervous, and I did not feel the need to defend myself. I enjoyed people who challenged my thought process, and I learnt to appreciate their ideas. I was astonished when I realized that I found similarities dull and boring. How could I have changed so much? Even today, as I get to know my batch mates better at SPJIMR, I am delighted to see the diversity. The conviction that people have about issues and causes, their likes, dislikes and their zest for life is amazing. It makes me look at life with a different lens. When I view through this lens, there is less of monotony and more of passion. It makes one wonder at the uniqueness of every individual and at life in general. I believe this habit of observing the quirks and unique traits of people is important *especially*in the field of management. Perspectives make us more broad-minded and inclusive. It makes one consider the various stakeholders involved and helps take better decisions. The ‘big picture’ is clearer and lucid. It makes us more inclined towards collaboration and not competition. These qualities are critical in this dynamic world of management. I believe that if we are able to imbibe those qualities that stand out in our peers and make ourselves better, we will be surprised at the heights we can reach. Even in our personal lives, this diversity in thought makes our fascinating. We tend to be more inquisitive and end up being more passionate about life. This passion will keep us young at heart, and can help us move away from the competitive rat race that lures us in life. As we mature in our thinking, we will be able to appreciate the simplest of things that we otherwise take for granted. I sincerely believe that the confluence of perspectives from various sources, combining with our unique identity and convictions, will produce a new and colorful outlook to life.

Ma’am, this was truly a riveting and interesting read. The sudden changes in environment that one may come across as elicited in your article is something to I could relate to instantly. I also believe that staying among people who we know feels comforting and transition to place full of strangers may bring about discomfort. However, I also believe that for our development it is imperative for us to push our boundaries and network beyond those who we know. In the same line of thought, you have rightly pointed out that doing so gives us an opportunity to learn new things. The reason I could relate to the article in an instant is because I feel that I am currently experiencing it. After having joined SPJIMR, in a very short time span I have met a lot of people who come from different backgrounds. After the interactions I have had with them, I have realised that most of them are quite different from me. Each of them have their own personalities, thought processes and ideas. Discomforting as it may be, it has given me an opportunity to interact with people who are quite different from me and in the process, broaden my horizon of thoughts. Ma’am, you have mentioned that we learn myriad things from the people we come across. The question that pops up in my mind, is how much of what we learn from meeting these people do we actually manage to retain. However, I do agree that, it may happen that we come across a person who changes our lives by bringing about a change in our thoughts and ideas. I have had a similar experience whereby I was motivated to start reading, which I feel has shaped me into the kind of person I am today. You have mentioned that people who know us often assure us of the correctness of decisions that we’ve taken. I believe this has a drawback as well. It may happen that the people we know and rely on may not give us the correct feedback of our performance or the decisions that we’ve made. This inhibits our growth and development and this is where I feel the importance of meeting different people comes in. Three months into an MBA program, which is no less than a roller coaster ride, I still feel that I am learning to accept the differences. However, when I look back, I realise that it is so much easier for me to work with people who are different from me. Now, I find myself wanting to work with people unlike me and not always resorting to people who would provide me with assurance but not be my true critiques. Though it is still difficult for me to accept the differences around me, I have started to do so.

Thank you, ma'am, for such a thought-provoking blog. I would like to take a step back and ask some questions. What exactly creates a difference? Are we talking about the geographical, political or cultural difference? Or are we talking about difference of opinions? As mentioned by you, I too used to get excited by meeting random people in a new place and learning that we had a lot in common. Our thoughts would start resonating and we would lose track of time while having conversations. However, I have realized that, subsequently, the spark that had been created dies away and the flare seems to be lost. But what exactly happened? In my opinion, too much of conformity actually spills boredom. Imagine having a debate with a person who would share the same thoughts as you have and would almost agree with everything you say. How long will the debate last? Now one might question why one should always debate? Certainly, we don’t debate all the time. But the larger point that I am trying to make is that once you become familiar with a person who appears to be almost ‘similar’ to you and you have understood him or her well, you don’t find any different perspectives or challenging opinions coming up in conversations which force you to ponder upon. Aren’t we living in an ‘Agree to disagree’ world? To further my point, try to remember a friend or a relative of yours with whom you used to have a conflict of thoughts or opinions. Like him/her or hate him/her, you would find yourself naturally ending up having a conversation with him/her. Be it a social gathering or a formal office setting, we like to hold conversations with people who we know are different from us and will force us to think along different lines and expand our horizon and won’t accept our thoughts at ‘face value.’ I was having a discussion with some of my friends recently about ‘Will they look for a partner with similar qualities and traits or one with dissimilar interests and opinions?’ I was amusingly surprised to see how it was not an easy question for them to answer. In the end, everybody looked around their lives to realize that actually, some of their good friends and colleagues were actually people who were different from them. I would now like to come back to the question I raised in the beginning: “What exactly creates a difference?” In my opinion, it is not the geographical, cultural or political factors that create a difference, but it is the perspective and the way of looking at things that creates a difference. For example, the person need not be from a different state or religion to qualify for the ‘difference’ that we are looking at. Here is the ‘Glass is half empty, half full’ perspective that comes into play. I may be looking at the technical aspects of a problem while my friend or partner may be looking at its human angle. I may be a believer of the journey and not the destination, while he or she may think of the opposite, but there needs to be a common connection and that is where attitude makes all the difference. You may differ in opinions, but will be held together by a shared sense of ‘Optimism’ or ‘Greater good’ or any other common thought for that matter. So, in that sense you are not entirely different per se. In the end, I would like to conclude with a feeling that it’s not just about being different, but about being ‘Similarly Different.’

Ma’am, I found your article really interesting and I couldn’t agree more with what you have put forth in the article. It is one of the most basic human follies that we instantly tend to discount what we don’t believe in, what we don’t know about or like or what is significantly different from our expectations. Even psychology talks about the concept of ‘Cognitive Dissonance’, about the mental discomfort we face when we are presented with two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values. We are wont to undertake any step just so that we can alleviate this ‘discomfort’ which we experience. It is a very common tendency to look at differences as something jarring or unacceptable, but I feel that these are things which are meant to be embraced and celebrated. I have always held this belief that if you are faced with situations or you come across people in your life, who are different from you or what you expected, then it is a blessing in disguise. I believe that it is these different situations and people which we will expose us to a whole new range of experiences, which in turn will help us broaden our horizons, rediscover lost passions, explore uncharted waters and grow as individuals. All of us are looking for that “validation” in our lives, trying to identify people who are similar to us. Why not someone who is very different from us? Someone who is the total opposite of what we were looking for? We may just end up having the most beautiful experience of your lives. Desmond Tutu, an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa, once said, “Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need for each other”. If we look at the history of the world, then all major civil rights movements, activisms and so on, have been centred on the simple inability of people to accept differences. The fair-skinned people were unable to accept people with skin colours darker than theirs, which lead to the major movements in USA and South Africa (And the hate crimes still continue to this very day). In today’s world, large factions of people are unable to accept people of the same gender loving each other, people having fluid sexuality and people who choose to express themselves beyond traditional gender boundaries, which is why there is a need to have a LGBTQ ‘movement’ in the first place. I am going to use a very clichéd example to highlight the importance of differences in our lives. One of the most beautiful manifestations, of differences painting a picturesque view, in nature is the rainbow. We see absolutely a wide palette of hues coming together to create the most breath-taking art available to mankind. Life is also the same. It is these different beliefs, ideas and values, which paint the most effulgent montage to help us live a more wholesome and satisfying life!

Thank you for an interesting piece of writing. I was drawn to your blog because it seems that your ideas resonate with mine. I must congratulate you on writing a fine blog, which beautifully presented the idea of celebrating the differences! As I write, I can recollect that 3 months, 2 days and 2 hours ago I entered the new world (SPJIMR), a fairly unfamiliar world. At every step I were looking for similarities around. Even a trivial one would make me jump and make me comfortable in the unknown paradise. Moving out of my city where I have lived for all 21 years of my life to a new place in wish of fulfilling my dreams was not easy. The little child in me was as scared as excited. She knew that the experiences were going to be new and thrilling but she did not know whether she was ready for it. She was numb- completely oblivious of the surroundings. All she wanted was to fit in somehow- desperately carving a space for her self. The entourage from home to the new city, making room for her self and cultivating her own identity was not easy. Nevertheless, there was something that kept her going. There was something that reassured her of her existence. There was something that she could hold on to. There was something that whispered in her ears-’don’t worry I got your back’. This something was nothing but her true self. And then she learnt- ‘In a world full of differences it is futile to look for similarities outside, try peeping inside and you shall find a world of similitude!’ It is so human to seek out for people who are similar to us. In the process we miss on the opportunity to cultivate relationships with individuals who are different from us. Those supposedly ‘different’ individuals could have been our windows to a new world. Their company could have added new colors in our life only if we would have embraced their differences. More often than not, our aversion to dissimilitude becomes a hurdle in our path of experiencing new things in life. This not only makes our lives mundane but also restricted. As I reflect back on my life, I have come to realize that I were inherently drawn towards those individuals who held a different taste than mine as a single conversation with them added a new dimension to my thinking. There is something about differences that make you uncomfortable at first and then curious! In the world of management and otherwise, the older we grow, the bigger the organizations we move in, the more people we know, the differences become stark and that is when we get a chance to test our compatibility. In a globalized world, when all the world economies are coming closer and their interactions with each other is growing day by day, differences are not the stumbling blocks rather they are the opportunities to bank upon!

It is indeed a great read ma’am. I really like the way you have linked this whole idea of spotting differences through a game that most of us have been playing since childhood. We are so habituated to find similar things around us that it becomes immensely hard to spot the differences after a certain point of time. During my school days, even I used to be friends with people I can laugh with, with people who used to hate or like the same set of people as I used to, calling them “my type” and “not so my type”. It is fun to hang around with people you share same interests with. Also, I agree with you that when things are not working right and you go to your think-alike friends, they will console you by saying what all you want to hear. But if someone has a different opinion we would frown upon them. Even during the start of my undergraduation I ended up being with people of “my type”. When my work life began, eventually with time, I found people I could relate to and I preferred hanging out with them after work and on Sundays. It was when I joined SPJIMR and realised that each one of us is so different and there is so much to learn. I don’t think I would have been friends with a lot of people I am with if I would have the same thinking as I used to have during my school days and undergraduation. But during the span of last four months, when I look back, I see myself as a different person. I feel I am more open to people now, more open to accept them the way they are than before. I realised that I have changed for my own good. For example, through the Abhyudaya program, I have a different perspective of a slum life now. When I meet my mentee, I can actually see things from her perspective. I vehemently believe that surrounding ourselves with different people gives us a different perception about life and enables us to view the world through a different lens. But when we are with like-minded people, we tend to accept things the way they are and believing it as right since people around say it’s right. I believe that the best way to grow in life as a person is when you surround yourself with people who challenge what you do and what you think. I really liked the way you have portrayed the whole idea of accepting life patiently by comparing it to a slide in playground which is one of the favourite rides during childhood and brings nostalgia. I would like to extend this idea by quoting it now as a roller coaster with ups and down and full of sharp turns instead of soft ones.

Ma’am I think the topic that you have written this piece on, ‘Celebrating differences’, is a very pertinent yet an undervalued topic. Especially in a diverse country like ours where people have views that are at times poles apart, the significance of this topic only increases. I particularly liked how you substantiated your claim with your personal accounts. However, I have a slightly different take on it and I would like to present it through my own example. I consider myself as more of a left-brain person who relies more on logic, facts and patterns whereas one of my closest friends is more of a right-brain person who is more imaginative, creative and emotional. Initially we had a tough time gelling up but eventually got along well with each other. My natural tendency to think about any problem would be in a rational manner, ‘straight-from-the-mind’. On the contrary, his approach to the same problem would follow an emotional track, more of a ‘straight-from-the-heart’ approach. This often resulted in many arguments and debates but we always respected each other’s thoughts and trusted each other. Eventually, both of us started getting influenced by the other person’s line of thinking. Was it because I got influenced by his achievements? Or because he became fond of my accomplishments? Or simply because we were both less confident while approaching our own problems and wanted to rely on others? I don’t know! But the process of ‘dilution’ in our individualistic natural behaviour started and we began to think more on the lines of ‘How would he think?’ or ‘What would he do?’. Honestly, in some instances this approach worked out really well but then there were instances when it was a complete disaster. Today, not much has changed between the two of us. The level of trust has only enhanced, the bond has grown richer and our understanding of each other has improved. But once in a blue moon, over a phone call, we often make that remark in the passing that ‘we don’t know how but we have decided to meet in the middle’. This compels me to think that probably it is alright to be inclusive of others’ opinions, it might also be alright to celebrate them and learn from them but there must be some force at work which should protect your individualism. Perhaps, it depends upon the context, or on the individual. Spotting differences itself is a good capability that one should have. Celebrating them, in midst of all the argumentativeness around these days, speaks volumes about the person’s character. But to what extent one should get influenced by it, is something I’m yet to figure out and confused about.

The title ‘Spot the differences around you – Celebrate Them’ is an eye-catching title. Ma’am, I loved the way in which you have justified the title by giving personal examples. As an individual, it is always good to know who we are and how we are different from or like others. It helps us appreciate ourselves and respect the differences we see in others. I could relate to this blog so easily, even though it mentions your life experience. People have always been telling me that I am different. As a kid, I used to think how am I different from others. I kept searching for characteristics in people which were different from mine. How can one spot the differences when the person herself/himself is the difference in the picture? So, I interacted with them to know what they meant. Their replies made me believe that they meant it in a positive manner and there were other people like me. I discovered that everybody is unique, just that people find some things in common and become friends. I was one of the kids who was believed to be mature than their age. I used to find it difficult to make friends, as my thought process rarely matched with kids of my age. But when I found people who had the same cerebration as mine I found it easy to communicate and get along with them. This went on till I was in school, then I shifted to Mumbai – the city of people, for my graduation. There were three thousand students in my college, still I found it difficult to get along and socialize with them. I realized that people here are very different from me as they are from different city and background, and I will have to learn to talk to people who are different from me. I made friends with people who enjoyed songs which I would never listen, who read novels which I would never even look up to and had a very different approach towards life. It felt good when I used to hang out with them, my likes evolved over time, I started enjoying and appreciating ‘variety’. Then I came to SPJIMR, where everybody is from a different background and has gone through different things in their life. I feel happy to know that there are so many people with whom I can interact and keep learning new things and get the opportunity to teach them as well. Three months in SPJIMR has made me believe that, it is easy to initiate a conversation with people who have similar interest as mine but, I enjoy talking to people who have different interests than mine. SPJIMR college supports diversity in students, and the Faculty helps us build unity in this diversity. Thank You ma'am for writing this blog.

Thank you for an excellent article Ma'am. I was browsing through all the blogs, and this title caught my attention and raised my curiosity. I started reading it and I was nodding my head agreeing to whatever you have told in every paragraph or for every conclusion you have drawn. I could completely relate to this because I have also grown up in similar environments. As they say, birds of same feather flock together. I used to always stick to people who had similar ideas as me. People who followed cricket were my instant friends. People who worshipped Sachin Tendulkar were my favourites. My mother tongue was Kannada but I was born and brought up in TamilNadu. So whenever I came across someone who could speak Kannada, I wouldn’t move away without speaking with them. Getting to know people who are similar to us and spending time with them was the purpose of life for me during my school days. As I start growing up, I realised that was not the case. I moved to a new city for my under graduation and was excited to experience hostel life for the first time in my life. Rooms were allotted on a random basis and I was excited to meet my roommates. To my dismay, both of them were from different states and none of them knew Tamil or Kannada. We had nothing in common and I was completely disappointed. Everything was like a nightmare for the initial few days. But gradually, we started speaking with each other in English. It made me improve my communication skills as well. I taught them about cricket and they taught me Table Tennis. It is only because of them, I am a very good table tennis player now. They started loving cricket too. I started watching new genre of movies, started listening to new genres of music because of them. There is a famous saying that goes like this: “When you speak, you are only repeating what you already know. But when you listen, you are learning something new”. That is the case here too. Had it not been for them, I wouldn’t have grown up in my life. They helped me broaden my world and expand my vision. These are very important in every aspect of our life. Since then there was no going back, I always try to initiate conversations with my co-passengers in my journeys. I firmly started believing that everyone we meet has something in them that we don’t have and we could always learn from them. This is how people grow and this is the basis of networking. I started getting comfortable even if I was thrown into a room full of strangers. So to sum it up, the sooner you move out of your comfort zone, the better it is to succeed. These two quotes sum it up: “Comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing grows there”, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.

Hello Ma’am! I completely agree with the views you expressed in this article, and I wish to express a few of my own views on the same topic. I really like what Atticus says to his daughter Scout in the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. He says that ‘You never understand a person until you consider things from his point of view..until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’ He says this to explain to her that people are inherently different. They have grown up differently, and they have experienced life differently. Some traits, a few thoughts, some values are so intrinsic to us that they are stitched onto the very fabric of our beings; thus when we find someone else who has those same core values, we immediately ‘click’ with them. I used to think that it is only these people that we ‘click’ with, that will transcend time with us, and stick with us till the very end. However, I realised that it does not always happen that we ‘click’ with a person in entirety. There might be people who are polar opposites of us, but some aspects of their personality matches with some of ours – we tend to feel validated in this sense in front of this person. Despite differences, many of these people become confidants, friends, guides, mentors. Why do these diverse group of people also become so important to us? Because we see them for who they are – beyond their culture, race, age, ideologies etc. We see them as real, flawed people. These people have the ability to become the stepping stones in our journey of growth – as you correctly mentioned. Everybody who crosses our path leaves an imprint on us. They teach us little things. And it is through these little things that we evolve. But more importantly, they help us explore the unexplored parts of ourselves. They help us unleash talent that we aren’t even aware we have. Sure, sometimes, differences may pull us apart. But most of the times, they are the very glue joining us. After coming to SPJIMR, I have realised how beautiful it is to truly celebrate diversity in people. Because no matter the differences, essentially we all are human. And it is our shared experiences that bind us together, not our cultures/backgrounds. Acceptance is a small, quiet room. It takes courage to understand that just because people are different, does not necessarily follow that they are wrong/bad. The urge to get frustrated with people just because they do not look at the world with the same filters that we do maybe quite high, but my father has always taught me something whose value I realise more with each passing day. He always told me ‘Accept people and situations as they are.’ I never understood the true meaning behind these simple words until that one time when I completely changed as a person. It was at this crossroad that I had to accept a new ‘me’, which is when I realised that I am wired the way I am because of experiences and memories. Our subconscious seriously deserves a lot more credit than we give it. It holds on to the small, nameless moments that impact us and projects it onto our behaviour. And only when we have the courage to celebrate ourselves as we change with time, will we have the heart to celebrate others and the beautiful ways in which they might differ from us.

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