Sharp Edges and Gems

When two rocks with  sharp edges are tumbled together for an extended length of time, eventually such violent interactions yield gems that are refined, beautiful and valuable. The constant interaction between two harsh objects eventually creates two completely new objects unrecognizable from its past that are polished, refined and uniquely excellent. Why then are humans so averse to conflict? It is through such fire that true greatness, mutual respect and efficiency is achieved. Abrasiveness yields refinement which, when reflected in a healthy manor, will create opportunities for growth and greatness.

I am reminded of story about a leader of a nonprofit organization that was very distraught as he was constantly bombarded with perceived negativity. Let’s call the leader Jim. Jim was a people person who greatly valued what his direct reports thought of him. So much so, that any perception of disagreement caused great stress and anxiety to Jim. Johnny, who was a strong willed subordinate to Jim constantly challenged the status quo and tried to  be the contrarian to Jim’s thoughts, beliefs and schema. Eventually, due to the unhealthy perception on both sides, Johnny left the company as he felt his viewpoint was not valued.  30 years later, Jim reminisced about Johnny and how he remembered the heated debates they had about differing philosophies and what a loss the nonprofit had once he left. In retrospect, Jim wished he would have embraced the contrarian view of Johnny  as opposed to to all of the “yes men” Jim was surrounded by. He missed the opportunity to become a gem.

Therefore, embrace those instances in which you are challenged and those around you who are juxtapose from your position and viewpoints. The true value of life is through the interactions of those who challenge you the most. The individuals who share your same viewpoint are redundant and will not open your mind to new paradigms.

In sum, embrace those around you who challenge your world view and bring them closer to you in an effort to transform your rocks into gems.

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