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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder



I was discussing with my friend a couple of days ago about how we're both pretty liberal and open to experience. And yet, so much of what we both do is hardly one standard deviation away from the 'normal' that is expected of us. We have not done outlandish and crazy things that many people in different contexts and with different backgrounds do often, and will likely not do them because of whatever it is that shackles our minds from doing them.

And today, I came across this statement by Sir Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital, while he was talking about why there are so few women on the investment team at Sequoia.
"if there are fabulously bright, driven women who are interested in technology, very driven to succeed and can meet our performance standards we'll hire them all day and night."
The qualities that Sir Micheal Moritz is looking for - bright, driven, hungry for success - don't inherently discriminate people based on race, gender or world views. But, as they say, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What the partners at Sequoia define as bright, driven and hungry for success may not be the same as the definitions associated with these words by people from other genders, races or those with different world views.

Just like what's beautiful to me and my friend may not be beautiful to many others, what we're not open to doing may be due to us both having different definitions of what it means to be open and liberal and what falls under the 'do-ables' and what falls under the 'don'ts'.

From what I've observed in people, everybody's open to doing new things and new experiences. It's just that everybody is open to doing these things that are one standard deviation away from their 'normal' and each of has our own 'normal'.

This makes things very simple. Being open to experiences is not a favoured trait at all. In fact, every single person has that trait. What is sought after is a diverse normal. The more things you can classify as things you would do under normal circumstances, the more that opens you up to trying what others will refrain from.

Another way of putting it is the famous 'average of five' rule. This is a thumb rule that you're the average of the five people you hang out with, i.e. that's the qualities you imbibe and show, that's the morals you live by and that's the world view you believe in.

Make an effort in picking that five. Make them diverse. And preferably not just one standard deviation diverse. 

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