January 20th, 2017.

Hubby and I sat down to watch an historical event, the swearing in of our 45th President.

The moments leading up to this day were filled with strife, confusion, dissension, and misunderstandings. We weren’t just a country divided, we were also a house divided.

But there’s another side to the story. The moments leading up to the inauguration were also filled with love, connection, concession, and kindness.

For all of the emotions, turmoil, and friction built into every election year (we’re seldom on the same side of the political debate), I believe it has – and will continue to – make us better people.

Let me explain.

We’re different, he and I.

Hubby is a city boy. He’s the youngest of five (and much adored) in a boisterous, close-knit, Italian-Catholic family.

I’m an Irish-Catholic military brat with a retired colonel for a father and one sibling.

Hubby’s father worked second shift. There was always someone home for him.

I was a latch-key kid.

He grew up with siblings and cousins all under one roof, or living a short walk down the street.

With one sibling and a myriad of military posts, my sister and I were each other’s constant companions.

Hubby lived in one place his entire life, even returning close to home after college.

I traveled the world. Born on the East Coast, changing houses and schools every 6 -12 months – sometimes in the USA, sometimes not, was the standard for us (I can even still sing the Korean National Anthem in Korean. Not sure why, it just stuck). I was a nomad – a GI Gypsy.

We see the world differently. And that’s a good thing.

Our strength is in our differences

It isn’t always easy. But, we’ve found that our differences have become our strength. Our differences are why we work. We appreciate the diversities of one another.

Did you know that diversity actually makes you smarter? According to Katherine Phillips at Scientific American, “being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more conscientious and harder working?” Yep, it’s true.

If you want to construct groups, teams, or organizations capable of transformation, you need diversity. Diversity boosts creativity, encouraging the search for more information and perspectives. It leads to better decision making and problem solving. It can improve the bottom line of organizations and lead to amazing discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Diversity is what makes this world such an amazing place to live in.

On a smaller scale, it’s also what enriches our relationships. Hands down it is the best way to learn, to grow, and to succeed. It’s how well rounded people are created; by embracing experiences, differences, and divergences. It makes you work harder and, not surprisingly, it’s also how a well-rounded company is cultivated.

When members of a group notice that they are different from each other, their expectations change. They proactively anticipate differences of opinion and perspective, assuming they will need to work harder to come to a consensus. Diversity is how you create a growing, changing universal mind and culture.

Challenge yourself to appreciate the differences of others. Not only will it have a tangible effect on your perspective, but there’s also discipline behind it. Top scientists and researchers have identified a proven a link between diversity and productivity. Be it family, friends, colleagues, experiences or customers embracing diversity is the driver of change, the start of every successful journey and the spark of innovation.