Not a Box
A box is just a box….unless it’s not a box.
This is the premise of Antoinette Portis’ powerful children’s book extolling the virtues and power of losing oneself in our imagination to the point it feels real.
And yet, putting each other into boxes is something we seem particularly good at. It is unhealthy. It is unfair. It is a driver of the major schisms in today’s society.
- “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment”.
- “They’ve reached the limit of their scale. We can’t be successful with them in that role.”
- “That CEO, is young, doesn’t know what they are doing. Always making wrong decisions. We’ll do this instead because I know better.”
- “He writes really well even though he’s a technical developer by trade.”
- “He’s the janitor, he can’t possibly be helping send people to the moon. Can he?”
- Etc. Etc. Etc.
What do we really know? Who are we to put people in boxes?
Through the lens of a growth mindset, putting people in boxes – even unconsciously – is quite possibly the most detrimental failing of leadership. Our goal should be break down those boxes and support our team to grow in the directions they want to grow; to be who they are not who we think they should be. Letting their capabilities, their strengths, their growth, their ambitions and, yes, their imaginations rule what their box is. Until we do that we can never have true diversity nor full inclusion.
I am not a box. I’m not in a box. Neither are you.
I’ve struggled with boxes and labels throughout my career. I find them limiting. I have been aware of “Not a Box” since 2012, when I explored pushing myself outside of a particular box that was a limiting factor for me. It gave me the impetus to believe I could choose my own path without taking the exit door as I had previously. Subsequently, I have been lucky enough to find a unique path, that has allowed for exponential personal growth.
Some might say thats because I have not faced the same challenges as I would have if I was not a white male with a middle class background and a good eduction in a wealthy country. They may be right but, isn’t that just another box?
I’ve equally tried to treat everyone as the individuals they are. I am not always successful. It’s something that needs consistent thought and dedication. No one said it was easy. However, when I hit another roadblock another source of inspiration is the video from TV2 Denmark — “All That We Share” that went viral in 2017.
I truly believe we have the capacity to do better.