The Dangers of Labeling

Greetings from Southeast Asia!

I’m still on my work/voluntour trip and wanted to share something that struck me so sharply I needed to express it.

The beautiful thing about this trip is it gave me the opportunity to deliver a brand new keynote and get my own message out to the world. While I love helping others get their message out, my soul was starting to get louder and louder calling me to share what’s been brewing inside me. It was time!

I worked my butt off last quarter, hired an amazing speaker coach to make it even more powerful and got to kickoff three different conferences on Disruptive Leadership in the Philippines with my new keynote. The keynote topic is on “How to Become a Renaissance Leader” and it was exciting to hear the positive impact and responses from attendees.

What struck me was a consistent question I got at all three conferences from organizations that attended. The question and challenge they were facing was, “How do we work with our Millennials?”

One of the Core Renaissance Practices I shared in my talk is “Honor the diversity of ideas” which includes honoring the individual. The question about Milennials stemmed from the challenge to do just that, “honor” them for who they are.

But, who are Milennials? (In fact, you could replace “Milennials” with any generation, race, gender, religion or politics)

I noticed how they put Milennials in a bucket assuming they were all the same kind of person. I started to see how their label stopped them from truly understanding who Milennials are as individuals. Not as an entire generation.

In fact one of the gentlemen who asked me the question mentioned how he is a Milennial but didn’t fit into the mold. Yet he was still challenged with “working with Milennials”.

For every person or thing you label, you will always be able to find someone that is not like that…if you search for that. For every statistic that is considered “true”, you will always find one that states otherwise, if you put your focus there.

As soon as we label (or judge) we discount an entire group of people missing out on all the talent, gifts and riches they could offer because we assume we know who they are. We shut down all possibility for new perspectives, and new thinking.

How often do you label the audiences you speak to, the potential clients you are pursuing, and your previous and future clients? How about your boss, your colleagues or your neighbors? Even if it’s a positive label, it’s still a label and once labeled, you have closed your door on new possibilities.

While I’m not an expert on how to work with Milennials, I challenged those attendees with the question to practice one of the most powerful tools I mention in my keynote, which is the skill of curiosity. Curiosity requires having an open mind and truly getting to know each individual versus jumping to conclusions.

I invite you to take a hard look at all the labels you use in your business and life and as soon as one pops up, get more curious about that group, that generalization, that belief and see if you can prove your assumptions wrong.

We are each unique no matter what generation we grew up in, what our race, color, religion, affiliation or otherwise is. Let’s treat each interaction we have, each individual that comes across our path by honoring their uniqueness.

Get more curious about who they are by asking more questions. 

Will you take on this challenge and allow your curiosity to prove your assumptions wrong!? If so, I would love to hear how your experience is. Please post below.

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