As part of the Aspen Ideas Festival, author and NPR science reporter LuLu Miller shared her Dandelion Principle. Most people think of the yellow plant as nothing but a stubborn weed, but Miller uses them as an illustration that worth is always subjective.

“To a gardener, a dandelion is a weed that needs to be pulled and thrown away, but to a chef, it provides pepper to spice up a salad; a painter may find it as an artistic subject and a herbalist sees the plant as a soothing digestive ailment,” she said. “There may be value there beyond our comprehension; a deeper connectivity that we cannot see.”

It reminds me of the teachings from the authors of Leadership on the Line. In times of conflict, Heifetz and Linsky encourage people to learn the story of those who have a different point of view from your own. Others are acting rationally based on their values and beliefs; if you can come to understand why they think differently you are more likely to find common ground. In other words, try to learn why they treasure this thing you think is just a weed.

Our reflexive response is to view the totality of an item through our own value lens and not consider that others may see something in an entirely different way. The dandelion can serve as a visual reminder that there are many perspectives for everything.

Leadership on the Line by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky, 2002

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