By Fields Jackson
Founder and CEO
Racing Toward Diversity magazine
I was fresh out of college and had landed my first job in Erie, PA. Mom and dad traveled from New Jersey to help get me settled and furnish my new apartment.
Dad and I went to a small used furniture store looking for a desk. What he found and commented on resonates with me today. He saw tucked away in the corner – not a desk – but a small 40" high by 40" wide dresser. The lower three drawers had been removed with the remaining top drawer in place. This old discarded oak dresser had been transformed into a new desk for me. My father stated – “I don’t know the person that did this - but I like how they think”
New ideas – new approaches – where do you go - where do you find them? Which do you ignore? Which capture your imagination?
Still early in my career with a new job as hospital equipment representative. I had an appointment to meet the nursing staff of a children’s hospital to do a early morning equipment in service. During my setup, I noticed a small child almost completely bandaged from head to toe, badly burned. While I set up the child woke up to find a small gift – left on his bed – a rubber ball. The absolute delight in this child’s eyes as he started to play with this ball, this new gift. His response could have been the absolute opposite - to ignore it.
To this day, I reflect on that moment whenever I think I am having problems or cannot see a way forward. This child – who was dealt a very bad hand early in life – choose to celebrate that day – choose to take an optimistic approach forward - as the ball and what it represented captured his imagination - as well as mine.
I will close with a more recent story. Bob Ontiveros, CEO, Group O Companies sent me an e-mail about his start in business and our publication. Bob stated - "looking back to 1974, I started my business, No Plan, No Money, only a Desire to have my own Business, times were really tough, 15% interest rates, the Oil embargo, etc., but desire and hard work will always succeed."
Thought leaders – they are out there – seek them out – some you will find in unfamiliar places, some from unlikely voices, maybe even tucked away in a corner. Once you find them – appreciate the way they think. Bounce your ideas and concerns off them before you toss them away or take a negative approach.
I am humbled and thrilled to hear from those thought leaders that believe diversity represents another way forward. We continue to find new clear voices in the diversity and inclusion discussion. As always .....if you have a minute - we would love to hear yours.