At one of my “Build Compliance Deliver Competitive Edge” workshops at the Ritz Carlson in Kuala Lumpur, the hotel served 14 types of food for attendees who spoke 16 different languages and represented 12 countries. Those workshops, part inspirational and part nuts-and-bolts, were the starting steps to my inspirational keynote and pragmatic mentoring work. The government approved my workshops for the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) allowances. This allows companies to recover the money they prepay for skills development. Attendees vary from government to private enterprises, directors to staffers, and owners to apprentices. The attendees are nominated or self-selected. After doing a few workshops, I grasped the pattern.

At the start, they look at me and wonder. Is Raj worthy of my time? There is chatter in the room even after I am introduced and also after I start to speak.

The group is diverse. There are black skins and white and all shades in between, men are in suits and regional garbs. Women are in short skirts and burkas. They all speak different languages and pray to different gods. Their traditions are different and they eat different foods. They are united in English and in their desire to rise.

Soon a magical boom happens. It is silent to all, but I can hear it like a sonic boom every time. That’s when the audience realizes that I am real and I can help. The room goes pin-drop silent. No wandering eyes, no distractions, the eyes are locked on me like lasers. They can see that I can reach them to the top. This is when I have earned the right to engage them.

We are now in free space above the rattle and congestion of lower atmosphere. We have no distractions. In this space, another magical transformation happens. All the individual differences fall away. No gender, color, clothing, culture, language, tradition or any other barrier stands in the way.

The chase for solutions is intense and focused. One by one, each participant reaches his/her epiphany of what needs to happen on their teams and projects. We are all connected in thought. The whole hall is one in its conscious energy. We become one giant brain. Everyone catches additional velocity. At the breaks, people start bouncing, and huddles start even before the workshop is over. These energized talks happen in many languages, but the common language of enthusiasm needs no translation. Everyone is now pumping fists, gazing at the ceiling, contemplating, imagining and also testing what they have just discovered.

The brain bursts are both intense and powerful and the discoveries are fluid and spontaneous. It’s a beautiful display of the pure creativity and goodness.

What just happened?

Everyone got focused on what really mattered to them, how to become their best, individually and in teams. Their goal is to become the world’s best. Which gender, age, skin color, language, or tradition shaped the idea is not important.

  • They rate ideas on an opportunity and feasibility scale.
  • They rate the idea’s origin in its authenticity.
  • They rate merit in experience and success.
  • They rate risk on validated criteria.
  • They rate and test all the facets.

This is diversity in action.

The wise across the spectrum, the elder fighters in villages, corporate leaders at global companies, grandmothers in old cultures, and brilliant youngsters with open minds already know this. They know how to find the right criteria, and what measurements to apply and how to choose options accordingly.

If you don’t pick the brightest brains, tomorrow, you will compete with that best brain. Someone who prioritizes the merit of ideas will enlist it for his/her fight. You will compete with them.

So what to do next?

First, do all you can to become the best brain on the planet in what you do. Chase knowledge wherever it resides. Seek wisdom in your own maturity, and learn it from those who have it.

Next, pick the team that represents the best brains in things that matter to you. More than one brain will have a different perspective on your interests. Listen to them all and make the choices that matter to you. Let all other distractions fall off.

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