Starting at a young age, we’re handed Look and Find books that usually contain a section of “Spot the Difference.” As we continue to grow up, we’re told to set our differences aside whenever we disagree or have a conflict with someone. Setting differences aside is ingrained into our heads, but this common phrase oftentimes leads us to have a closed mindset. We become so focused on spotting the differences, that we lose touch with the reality of the big picture. Instead, it would benefit us to take a step back and avoid nitpicking at the differences.
When it comes to building relationships with people, why should we look for differences? Conversely, we should choose to cultivate a growth mindset by focusing on similarities. For us FFA members, that unifying factor is Agriculture. It is our job to use that common passion to work together for the greater good. Additionally, it would benefit all parties involved to stop assuming differences are a bad thing. The very beliefs, qualities, and characteristics that are different are the very things that make each and every one of us unique. This uniqueness that every person brings to the table is what holds tremendous value.
Take a moment and consider a time when you worked on a team. Whether this team was in a group project at work or school, a team sport, or an FFA officer team, we’ve all worked with someone else before. Were you and your partner(s) exactly the same? Chances are, you weren’t. These differences are what serve as our roots. Our roots don’t have to control us and define us, but they help us to grow. Allow your roots to grow you in order to flower and bloom where you’ve been planted. Each person has different strengths and weaknesses, which is what makes working together such a beautiful thing. Each member’s strengths work to counteract another's weakness, creating an environment where we can stand united in a way that we couldn’t by ourselves.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t always have it all together. For example, I sometimes find myself in a position where I become too focused on the details and I forget the end goal. Thankfully, I have been fortunate enough to have FFA officer teammates that are able to give me the gentle reminder to think about those things. These teammates’ strengths lie in having a big picture focus, which balances my habit of focusing too much on the details.
It’s important to remember that our weaknesses don’t make us weak, but choosing to let those weaknesses define us does. Allow your weaknesses or differences to serve as growing opportunities. Actively pursue constructive criticism from others and keep an open mind at all times. Seek to surround yourself with others that will strengthen you and support you as you seek growth opportunities. A friend once told me, “never underestimate the power of community.” When we make the conscious effort to stop harping on the differences and work to unite with each other, we become an unstoppable force. Alone, there’s not much we can withstand. Together, we can accomplish whatever we want.