"Diversity and Inclusion are the greatest results of self-awareness, empathy and cooperation."

 

4 years ago, during my first year of college, I created a company with other 14 crazy young entrepreneurs as my partners and team members. We didn't have a clear goal, nor a concrete business model, everything was pretty uncertain for us, but we just had the enough amount of courage and desire to create our own projects and learn from each other. 

I was chosen to be one of the main leaders of the company, a completely new and challenging role for me that I proudly accepted. 

I rapidly got immersed and fully committed in my leadership role, creating strategical plans as well as taking the initiative of giving the first steps into new projects.  It was journey full of challenges and excitement. However, this entrepreneurial dream didn't last forever. 

4 months after launching the company, we all moved to Finland as part of a college exchange program. Stuck in the dark Finish winter, far from our homes and loved ones, some team members could not handle the hard workflow and the uncertainty management that start-ups require in their early stage. They completely lost the focus and motivation, and as a result, little by little, so did the team.  

However personally, I was still highly motivated to keep creating and learning, so I couldn't understand the general attitude of my teammates, and I related it to a lack of discipline or maturity.  

During our weekly team meetings, the few of us who were still keeping the track of our goals, were constantly questioning other people performance and requiring for more commitment.  This confrontation only led to an even bigger gap between us, until the point of questioning ourselves if all of us should continue in the company.  

I believe that sometimes life manages to align the happening of great things with correct moments, and as a result we get life changing experiences. This time, I found a book, and this seemingly insignificant and habitual thing was the starting point of a huge evolution on myself. 

This book called "Dialogue, the art of thinking together" taught me that we can choose how to talk and interact in team meetings.  We can formulate our own ideas and opinions and try to convince other people that we are right,  or we could understand meetings as a moment to listen to each other,  understand what do they think and why do they think in that way,  going beyond their words, and try to create a new opinion or idea all together.  This second option (over simplified), was named "inquiry". 

I suddenly understood that I was acting wrong with my team. I was judging them and assuming that my position was the only right one.  I also understood that listening, having empathy, being inclusive and embracing diversity it's an active daily activity, which has to be trained every day. 

Therefore, every day before going to university and meeting my teammates I used to write down with a marker in my arm the word "inquiry" as a reminder to practice inclusion and listen beyond the words. 

I kept doing the same excercise every day for one year.  My attitude and way of leadership completely changed to a more inclusive and coaching way, and the team got reunited and fully committed back again.  

Nowadays, I don't practice this activity anymore because I decided to have it written down in my arm forever.

In the name of diversity and inclusion, this is the story of how I got my first tattoo.
 

 

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nagore osa arzuaga

user experience officer