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Yes We Can: Collaboration is Possible in a World of Extreme Thinkers

We live in a time where there is more currency in divisive “us and them” posturing than in unifying collaboration. It’s a constant…

Photo by Nicholas Swanson

We live in a time where there is more currency in divisive “us and them” posturing than in unifying collaboration. It’s a constant disappointment to see even the brightest among us jumping on board with those they see as like-minded, simply for the sake of loyalty. “Brand allegiance” now overrules independent thought or the ability to act according to what we instinctively believe to be right.

It’s the drama of extreme thinking as opposed to collaboration that sells. Getting along isn’t sexy enough for advertisers. As we see on CNN or Fox News, advertisers jump on board with with the right or left, sharpening each side’s message to directly reach intended demographics that support a particular side, ultimately increasing advertising revenue by creating more brand loyalty on either side. The two networks are in direct competition with each other, constantly drumming up more loyalty for their belief systems than spending any time, money or effort attempting to bridge the divide.

Friends and family are splitting like never before, falling prey to the marketing bait of political candidates and media that stokes the proverbial flame of civil wars.

As a native Detroiter, I was born in the town home to mass production — the world was changed forever with the mass production of the car. The Ford Motor Company was founded and organized by infamously extreme thinkers, but those thinkers shared priorities. Partners with often polar opposite views ended up changing the world together.

Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

Today, influence and power is strengthened by focusing on building up our differences rather than by seeking opportunities and championing issues where diverse thought matters. Choosing sides has been replaced by working towards solutions that matter.

Solutions to complex problems take flight when unlike thinkers collaborate. Those are the lessons we have seen time and again when unlikely partners set aside their differences for the greater good.

Imagine if we could take a page from the best, most collaborative moments of our country’s history, and dive in to work together on issues we might all care about, issues such as preventing instances of cancer and saving lives.

For us to adequately address the issues that are of paramount importance to our country today, such as the health and well-being of our children, we need to figure out how to include and work with people whose eyes are on the goals as opposed to on the divisive core beliefs.

Diverse populations are bound to have diverse values, but diversity in itself does not preclude diverse people from also having shared priorities. As Americans, we have often demonstrated shared priorities, working side by side despite unshared values in a variety of ways. We have done so in times of war, during and after natural disasters, and in more industrious times as we have seen with the mass production of the car.

Everyday I work with people that are not like me, but we make it work because of our common interest in cancer prevention.

I don’t have to lose my soul when working or compromising with those unlike me, and I don’t.

Working with individuals or entities with different core values does not mean we cannot share priorities; we do it to end the suffering that comes with cancer.

Originally published at medium.com

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