Whenever you put two or more people together, a new culture is created between them. Each person brings their beliefs, values and perspectives to the space they share, and those beliefs, values and perceptions overlap or differ to varying degrees. As human beings, we’re wired for survival, and we’ve achieved that fairly solidly over the centuries. Whilst we’re not generally too worried about our rank on the food chain with regards to the rest of nature, we do tend to spend a fair amount of our time considering where we rank in our daily lives with respect to other people and our general success — however you personally choose to evaluate that. This is our natural survival instinct at work.
Add the pressures of a global pandemic and its fallout, and you’ll probably find that you’ve spent more time thinking about division in the past few years than you have about what brings us together? Not only have we dealt with an incredible amount of change and challenge that has depleted our energy, but there seems little respite. Whether this change and challenge has seen you powering forward or dragging behind, it’s further added to our primal need to try and survive. That primal survival need is wired to make us fight for ourselves — and this can make us single-minded rather than collaborative. This is a short-term strategy though as, longer term, we draw strength from our ability to “belong” and to act as a team. Re-examining where our mindset currently sits is a great checkpoint is we intend to regain or replenish our energy.
Every friendship, every family, every team, organisation, community and country has a culture unique to it. As mentioned, that culture is made up of the combined beliefs, values and experiences of the people it comprises. Because we are primal beings wired for survival, we tend to see each other’s differences before we look for our common ground. We judge and compete with each other because this is how we’re wired to survive in a dog-eat-dog world. Our primal instinct asks “How are you different to me?” and consequently “How are you a threat?”.
Thankfully, in this day and age, we’re also intelligent enough to recognise that it is our uniqueness that sets us apart and allows us to bring something special to the teams and partnerships we join. If one of us is the same as any other on that team, then one of us is not necessary. It is also our ability to find common ground…