Different is the new ordinary

At 5.45am this morning, I stumbled out of bed and got myself to a 7am breakfast event run by the Geelong Chamber of Commerce. After I found the coffee machine and inhaled 2 cups of the good stuff, I somehow managed to sit at the wrong table. I was having a great chat to some really lovely people and then was advised of my seating error. I waved bye bye to my news friends and relocated to my appointed table.

Again, I met some really lovely people and we had some really lovely food and when the formal part of the event began, we were introduced to 3 really ordinary speakers. Their names were Richard Colman, Jemima Moore and Sam McIntosh. Like me, they too had managed to get to the event on time, but they had brought their own seats with them so there was no chance of them being in the wrong one – unlike me.

They shared with the audience their stories of sporting achievements, challenges and disappointments and all with cheeky smiles and a good dose of humour. There is NO way I could reach such levels of athletic success (no, seriously I couldn’t) but what I know I can achieve, thanks to these 3 very ordinary people, is to spread their message.

“People with disabilities CAN – they just do it differently”

Richard, Jemima and Sam were all in wheelchairs and although they had achieved some pretty fantastic sporting successes, their message was about abilities - not disabilities.  They confirmed that they and others gaining support from the NDIS, want to be included. They want to be considered ordinary.

Seems that while the rest of the world is trying to stand out and be different, 20% of the population ache to fit in and be ordinary.   

From all reports, we “able bodied” peeps have some work to do when it comes to inclusion for all, in our workplaces and many other areas of life. But it can and will be done. It has to be. If not, I’m sure Richard’s Mum will have a word or two to say.*

When I left the breakfast, I put ordinary into action. I walked back to my car via a set of stairs, I opened my car door, sat down, buckled up and drove off. That simple act alone would have been very different if I was in a wheel chair. Could I have done that if I was in a wheelchair? With training and practice yes, it just would have been a different process - same result.

So do businesses in Geelong and Australia need to make room for people in their business who do things differently? Of course. Different is good for business. Different experiences, different ages, different behaviours, different cultures, different ideas and different abilities.

Your customers are all different and customers warm to people in businesses who they have something in common with. 20% of your customers want to feel ordinary when doing business with you.

Different is the new ordinary.

So, go on – get out there today and I dare you – treat EVERY person as ordinary because chances are, you are interacting with someone who deep down, just wants to fit in and not stand out.

   *I have never met Richard’s Mum but I would love to, she sounds like my type of person :)