I was reading Umair Haque’s review of Davos titled, “Ten Things You’re Not Allowed to Say at Davos.” For those of you who don’t know (and why would you, if you’re not the CEO of a Fortune 10 company or, well, Bono), Davos, Switzerland is where the upper, upper, upper (did I say upper?) echelon meet for the World Economic Summit annual meeting. And it took place last week.
Umair takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the summit and the “tiny hint of a feeling that Davos isn’t exactly fighting to tooth and nail to right the ship — but to hoard the food, and puncture the lifeboats.”
Of the 10 things you’re not allowed to say at Davos but he said anyway, there is one that really sticks out to me.
Your Mom tends to tell you what you want to hear. Davos loves diversity — as long as said diversity doesn’t carry the terrifying prospect of actually generating perspectives that question the primacy of the obsolete, crumbling paradigm known as industrial age capitalism. But here’s the thing: especially in a time when your fundamental assumptions are breaking, it’s probably your fiercest critics — not your compatriots — who have the sharpest, most resonant insights.
And that brings me to something we should all consider. We tend to attract like-minded people. In our personal lives, at work, and through social media. We read, and comment on, blogs and articles we agree with and whose writers we like. We join groups where there are others who think like us so we feel like we belong. We even judge people with friends who judge the same way (I’m really bad in airports; like someone handed me a fashion police badge and a book of blank tickets).
So many of us are scared to death to put ourselves out there, in life and online. And so many business leaders are afraid to participate online for fear of what people will say about them or their companies.
But here’s the deal: Why wouldn’t we want to attract the detractors? Because, like Umair says, it’s your fiercest critics who provide the most resounding advice. And, let’s be real. When people say negative things to or about us, those are the ones we really listen to and take heed.
So here is my challenge to you for the week. Go find a reporter, blogger, or even colleague who you completely disagree with and have a conversation with them. But, instead of getting defensive and letting your blood pressure rise, really listen and see what you can learn. I’d be willing to bet your mind is open to possibilities you’d never considered.
You up for the challenge? If you disagree with me, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise I’m off to find someone I disagree with and start my own conversation.
Oh, and in case you were wondering and really wanted to attend Davos next year, a ticket is yours for a mere $71,000. But don’t plan to invite any friends or colleagues. Because then the price tag reaches $137,000-$622,000, depending on if you bring one or five friends.