Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day. -Unknown 

Thanksgiving is a time to come together and focus on gratitude.

When I think about what I’m grateful for, the vast and varied relationships I’ve cultivated over the years are at the top of my list.

Throughout my lifetime, I have experienced the challenge and the excitement of moving from one state to another, from east coast to west. Each time we relocated to a new community, we were welcomed warmly.

This kindness instilled in me an awareness of what it means to be hospitable to those who are new. As a result, it is the foundation for one of my greatest joys — connecting with people from other countries and cultures who come here with no network of family or friends to support them.

Diversity at the Table

Whether individuals, couples, or entire families, we loved including them in our holiday traditions.  We welcomed them around our table and helped them acclimate to their new American home. My family and I appreciate the diversity of the relationships that we’ve gained because of being hospitable.

Over the years, we’ve gotten to know people from 21 countries and allowed them to get to know us. We’ve provided each other encouragement, made life-long friends and forged family-like relationships.

We’ve had people from all walks of life gather at our table, but one experience that was a life-changing was when we hosted a Brazilian exchange student for a year. It was a delightful challenge to have this young man in our home. And it was a gift to learn from him and include him in our family.

I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go to a different country, not be able to speak my native tongue and quickly adapt to a different culture. When I’ve had the opportunity to travel, I’ve been fortunate to have people around me who know my language and show me kindness. How could I not pay that forward?

Diversity is a Gift

The ability to really see and understand someone with diverse perspectives and life experiences is a priceless gift.

It’s broadening, educational, and helps us to be more empathetic. It enables us to learn and grow in new ways.  Through it we become better people!

And it’s not just for our Thanksgiving tables.

It’s absolutely transferable to the work place and to our communities. The more we can break down walls and barriers and be curious about other people, the more we can connect with the human being and not the stereotype.

We may not always agree with other people’s choices, but we can honor and respect them as individuals who are unique and precious. When we reach out to people outside of our normal circles, we gain new perspectives and new friends.

Diversity Makes Us Better

As leaders, be aware of new people coming into your work culture. Reach out to offer assistance and make them feel welcome. Bring the gifts of hospitality, curiosity and gratitude for diversity. Let it become a fundamental part of your conversations and interactions in the workplace.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to set your holiday table with these notions in mind.

Be grateful for the learning that comes from being open and use the gift of hospitality to welcome others in.

Be curious and be thankful for diversity. It adds a richness to the work we do and the lives we lead.

Author

Carla Ruiz

Carla Ruiz

Carla’s mission is to fuel growth and development by affirming strengths, challenging beliefs, and igniting potential through Values Based Leadership. She presents, facilitates, and coaches in a variety of leadership programs and with companies intentional about strengthening their culture. In her role as a Leadership Development Coach, she is passionate about increasing emotional intelligence, which she believes is the cornerstone of effective leadership.