…This conversation brings to mind a conversation President Nichols and I were having about eight or nine months ago. Keep in mind he ended his career owning and managing a 300-person civil engineering firm plus all the time he spent counseling and talking to people in the Church.
We were talking about how Elder B. and I are pretty similar, except I'm way more transparent than he is. We talked about the different elders - from football-coach-personality Elder N., to skinny shy silent Elder H., to guitar-toting, laid-back Elder S., who fits to a T his first name 'Kenny', and how completely different we all were. Then he asked me, would it be fair if I demanded all of them communicate with me in the exact same manner?
Me: No, of course not President Nichols.
Him: Why not?
Me: Well, they can't change who they are just to talk to you.
Him: Then who has to change?
Me: (pause) I guess you do, President.
Him: You're exactly right, Elder Bhagwat. I have to change. If I want to have influence with each elder in Vizag, if I want them to listen to me, I can't possibly communicate with you the same way as I communicate with Elder N. or Elder H. or Elder S. And if you want to be a powerful influence for good in the world, you will have to learn too.
The conversation hit me because I really do want to be a powerful influence for good in the world - in my career, when I raise my family, etc. President Nichols and I have been talking about it again and again.
My dilemma, then, is that I'm most comfortable being around people like myself but if I want to be a powerful influence for good in the world I won't have that option. I certainly don't have it here.
I think it's something I'll have to work out as I go. For now, I'm really happy for the chance I am having now to develop the ability to communicate with people that are very different than me while still remaining myself.