Magic glasses discover super powers

Ergin Ă–zdemir 19 June 2017

Perhaps you have heard of Michael Phelps, the swimmer who became the world's most successful Olympian. At the age of 10 he was bullied and the teachers thought he was unfocused and impulsive.

Michael had difficulty concentrating so his mother brought her little boy to the swimming pool where he swam and swam, utterly tireless. The rest is Olympic history.

The diagnosis of ADHD made him different from others. But that inequality proved to be his strength and super power.

People with differences are all around us, and often closer than we think. We meet these inspiring personalities as our customers, colleagues, neighbors, friends - and relatives.

I think my own life becomes slightly richer and more colorful with people who are different. Perhaps I should have been diagnosed a long time ago. But today, I think my own differences have become my strengths.

For many years I have invested time, energy and commitment to creating better conditions for people who are different so that they can have increased chances of finding employment. My experience and conviction is that it is the shortest way to integration into society. A job creates shortcuts to a better economic situation and social context.

I meet many organizations and companies that want to be better at understanding differences. Many executives realize that an inclusive workplace creates competitive advantages and improved profitability.

How can you, as a leader, become more inclusive in your leadership? How can your business become more inclusive as a workplace? These, and many similar questions I receive daily.

But there is no solution that suits all executives or all workplaces. My answer is that the likelihood of doing the right things increases with good intentions. There are methods, processes and structures that allow you as a leader, and your company, to succeed with inclusion.

In my work as a lecturer I have wanted to find a good metaphor that helps the audience create their own images and become more curious about the power and opportunities of diversity. Perhaps eye glasses with magical powers would do the trick?

With magic glasses, we can look beyond hair color, skin tone, waist circumference, height, age, gender, sexual orientation and diagnosis. And they could help us discover each other's driving forces, personalities, full potential - and super powers. This would make our meetings significantly more efficient and productive.

Everyone can get magic glasses. All that is required is that we open our eyes, our minds and our hearts for diversity.

I wonder what would happen if you chose to wear your magic glasses at work, in an employment interview, when you meet a customer, at an AW or during a dinner. Try it! You would probably find that you are surrounded by different people who all carry super powers.

Ergin Özdemir is a social entrepreneur and diversity advocate who works for an inclusive Sweden, an inclusive society and inclusive workplaces. Ergin wants to help companies to see the opportunities offered by inclusion and how it can contribute to the organization.
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