Shun Intolerance

by Daniel Ngari on January 25, 2009

What does intolerance have to do with success? Surprisingly – a lot! Success in life calls for constantly learning from people around us. People are different in looks, shapes, beliefs, tastes, habits, views etc. If you don’t accept or at least respect diversity in people, it will limit how high you can soar.

Intolerance is the unwillingness to recognize and respect differences in opinions and beliefs. Intolerant people are narrow minded about cherished opinions and do not accept people who have a different way of life. Intolerance is cultivated by social conditioning. To rise above mediocrity, we must shun intolerance by taking active steps to respect diversity.

Diversity is the term used to describe the relative uniqueness of each individual in the population. As human beings, we have a lot in common but we are all different in age, race, gender, physical abilities, sexual orientation, religion, opinions etc. Enlightened people shun intolerance and celebrate diversity.

In your walk through life, you will meet people with annoying habits, less than stellar looks, outrageous opinions and tasteless taste in everything. There are people who you just don’t click with. But you can turn the natural urge for intolerance into strength.

Turning weaknesses into strengths is not easy. But if you get into the habit of turning your weaknesses into learning and growth opportunities, you will succeed where many won’t. If you find yourself not accepting people because of their opinions, practices, looks or beliefs, it is time to go back to the drawing board. Develop a quality of tolerance and understanding.

Find Common Ground

The quickest way of shunning intolerance is learning about the other person and finding out what is common between you and them. Think about it, you are bound to have something in common with someone even if they are from another culture, religion, race or opinion. Instead on focusing on what sets you apart, focus on what would bring you together.

In politics they call it reaching across party lines. This is where the people from different sides of the political spectrum come together to achieve a common objective. There is no quicker way of passing legislation than making it acceptable to both sides of parliament. This is the same in business. No company is an island. You will find that many companies even competitors, work together to find common ground and means to advance their agenda.

Your agenda is success. Should you let intolerance about other people’s ideas, looks or culture stop you from achieving your goals? You need to find what is common between you and them, then play it up. Success is a game; you need to learn the rules. One of the rules of success is that you must constantly deal with people and bring out the best in them. There is no better way of bringing out the best in people than understanding them and respecting where they are coming from.

When I first came to Australia, I used to wonder why everyone talked about the weather. Sometimes I would be at the bus stop waiting and somebody would come up to me and say something like “Its bloody hot mate!” or other times “G’day mate! it’s a beautiful day, ay”. A couple of those weather conversations ended up being lifelong friendships. It is all about finding common ground.

There are so many churches and denominations around the world. They all claim to have the answers and directions to the after life. Many turn out not very tolerant of the others teachings. But in 1993 in Perth, Western Australia, some churches decided to shun intolerance and find common ground. Every year they come together in November for a joint church service called “churchtogether”. The annual churchtogether event has become synonymous with the growing unity amongst churches in Perth and Western Australia, and has since been initiated in other cities around Australia and New Zealand. Check out their site: http://www.churchtogether.com

Success through Empathy

Empathy means understanding and entering into another person’s feelings. It is the capacity to recognize or understand another’s state of mind or emotion. It is often characterized as the ability to “put oneself into another’s shoes”.

It is narrow-minded to assume that that the world revolves around me. So what do I do? I try and put myself in the shoes of the other person. It is easier said than done but it is one skill we should all aspire to get down to an art.

If you are running a business, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders, partners, customers, employees etc. If you are working for someone, try and understand what is important for that person and help them reach their goals to the best of your ability. That, my friend, is how you will be successful.

Avoid Conflicts

Every conflict you hear about is caused by intolerance to people who are different. Think about it, all the fighting between Israel and Palestinians, it is deep and historical, but it boils down to intolerance.

You may not be in a position to bring about world peace, but you can avoid some conflicts that hinder you from success. Think of the last conflict you had with someone. Could it be that you were not tolerant of their perspective on life?

Areas to shun intolerance

  • Relationships – Accept your partner just as they are. If you are a woman and your man loves his sport, let him play, let him watch. If you find yourself using the phrase “I hate it when you …” you may be intolerant. Find common the ground instead.
  • Religion – This is a sensitive one with many people. Do you realize that the majority of conflicts in the world are connected to religion? Don’t engage people in debates about why your version of religion is better than theirs. That does not work. Instead focus on understanding what they believe and don’t rely on stereotypes. If you are convinced your brand of religion is the one, good for you. But don’t shove it down everyone’s throat. There are better ways of spreading your gospel than engaging in arguments. In short, respect other people’s right to worship and don’t put them down on that account.
  • Culture – If you make a friend from a different culture, spend some time understanding that person and what their culture entails. Don’t despise people because of their way of life. It may be different from yours, but it is all they know and it is a part of them. Find the good in people, including people from different cultures.
  • Politics – Taking politics too seriously can impact relations between people. When people vote for a particular leader, they have their own reasons for doing so. Reach out to others, seek to understand. Reach across political lines to find solutions to issues.
  • Money – People have different feelings when it comes to money. Some people think that money is the root of all evil. Others, like me, believe that money can buy happiness if you know where to shop. Understand that your view on money will determine how much of it you accumulate. But not everyone wants to accumulate money for the sake of accumulating money, or for the same reasons as you. Understand your position on money, but have empathy about other people’s views.
  • Morality – There are places where women are not allowed to wear revealing clothes. In other places that is pretty standard and the right of each woman. Some people might think that that kind of dressing is a show of decayed morality. There are many examples of intolerance in morality (perceived morality). Do you find yourself making blanket judgment about people’s morality? Be tolerant of people with morals to the south of yours. You don’t have to do as they do, just be respectful and cordial.
  • Race – This has got to be one of the areas of life where vast numbers of people are intolerant. Blanket hatred for people who are of a different race is outdated and will keep you from true success. People have been conditioned to be with friends who look like them, speak like them and have the same color as them. Reach out to people from other races. We are in a global village. All men are created equal; do not discriminate on the account of race. Instead seek what is common amongst people as the human race.

Conclusion

Tolerance has everything to do with success. If you accept other people despite being different from you, you are more likely to succeed in the modern society. Do not discriminate people on race, politics, morality, physical shapes etc. Find the good in people and seek the common ground. Focus on what brings you together rather than what sets you apart with others. Your success is intricately tied with other people. Do yourself a favor and shun intolerance!

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{ 5 comments }

Brenda Njeru January 29, 2009 at 1:18 pm

When you know yourself,you do not judge others, not only because you have been told, but because your own flaws are so pronounced that it hits you, your life is your own journey and everyone else has theirs.Your path is not the only one but people are there to fill your voids and that is how you find the missing ace in your pack of cards.

People who shut others out are very incomplete…..
The people are already chosen for you, its for you to keep an open mind. Could be the stranger on the bus.

Once you see yourself, you start working on you hence not comparing yourself to others, that energy is used for better causes and success will follow.

Change yourself, you change the world, drop the intolerance, drop the anger, drop the bitterness, drop the unforgiveness, drop the hatred, drop all those things that leave you in bondage of the mind. The worst form of slavery in my own opinion. And its only then you will be free to soar to heights because you will be feeling so light:)

Good luck on the Journey of self discovery to all.

George January 28, 2009 at 9:01 am

Right on Jobbo. I think this is one area where most people struggle in. I believe that if we are all open minded then the world would be a better place. We are making progress..we have the first African-American president in the US. True we are living Martin Luther King Jr’s dream but we have a long way to go. While the US made progress, I think Kenya took two steps back after last elections. Its truly a shame what intolerance could do. Its my prayer that we do more than tolerate but accept each other for who we are..keep up with the good blogs.

James Gitau January 27, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Daniel, I have enjoyed reading all your blogs and this one in particular. I am working in an industry that requires tolerance on so many levels and its surprising to see how many of my colleagues are confined in “little boxes” of ignorance on so many levels. This article does touch a nerve for me as sometimes I have been guilty of hastily preforming a judgmental before giving my clientèle a chance based on my prior knowledge of “such situations” or my in tray load.
This was an much needed awakening for me. Thank you.
Keep up the good work.

Nyomi January 27, 2009 at 11:38 am

Brilliant Daniel! Thank you. Yes, respecting – not judging, criticising and getting angry over diversity – is vital.

We are all God’s spirits, needing love, acceptance, kindness… irrespective of our race, colour, religion…

Embrace diversity

Cheers,
Nyomi

paula January 27, 2009 at 8:21 am

Dan I think this is very interesting because most relationships are easily broken due to lack of tolerance.. People are of course different and their way of life is very diverse and I believe when we take time to embrace the diversity then we will all live in a better world.
Thank You again.

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