When my parents divorced in 1970, I was 11 years old and I realized that my life had been changed forever in ways that I could not comprehend at that time.
The biggest change was living with my mom and my three sisters with no other male in the household. This meant that I was going to be one among many for the first time in my life, at least that I could remember.
Being one among many teaches us a lot about ourselves while modeling some behaviors for others. We find out what we are made of when we are out of what we think are our comfort zones.
The three things that I have learned deeply about being one among many are building more confidence, having more curiosity, and being more committed.
I build more confidence every time I put myself in a situation of being the one among many. I was one among many for the first 18 years of my career while working in an industry that was dominated by a female workforce. I worked in an office at one point where I was the only male out of 100 employees.
The confidence I built while working in that office supported me when I went on to work in other offices where I was the only one like me. This happened in meeting rooms in China, Mexico, and India. I was the only American business leader in countless meetings and as a result of my career experiences previously, I was able to navigate it successfully.
I am more involved than I have ever been with some local nonprofit organizations, which gives me the opportunity to be one among many. Sometimes, it is a women’s empowerment group and other times it might be a university student organization. In all cases, I strive to be the one among many who are building confidence and showing others how to build their own confidence.
I have a curiosity for new things and this lands me in rooms where I am one among many on a regular basis. I love that my mind wants to learn and experience more from others. As a life long learner, I seek new experiences locally and globally.
As a corporate business leader, I was insatiable about learning about leadership and business best practices. My keen interest led me to some amazing people who were able to share with me things that satisfied my need to know more.
I am bold in initiating new relationships, which I believe will create a win-win outcome for both of us. I see things strategically and my curiosity carries me to see them come to fruition. I am always on the look out for people who look at the work differently or come from a different place in the world to work with and get to know more deeply.
I have a commitment to serving and supporting others and that drives my actions to get into places that are new and exciting for me. I have taken on some amazing volunteer roles in the past few years that put me in a room with others who I can only empathize with and be there for them.
I am a volunteer for an organ sharing alliance where I come in contact with individuals who are living their lives after a transplant. I am thrilled to be among those who have been given a second chance at life. While there are others who are caregivers in the rooms with me, more often than the note I might be the lone care giver. I love being in those rooms with those I can connect with at a deep level. My commitment continues to be to show up and serve and support as one among many.
As a leader and advocate for diversity and inclusion, I feel the passion and responsibility to share with others the value and benefits of being one among many. I want others to realize the difference that we can make when we are willing to get out of our comfort zones and be that one person who stands out in supporting others.
My most consistent experience as one among many throughout my adult life has been being the only gay person in a room. The confidence, curiosity, and commitment it takes to show up as the one among many in those rooms propel me to continue to model it for others.
How might you show up as one among many in your career and life?
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