Alignment and Diversity

For the annual launch of Conscious Growth Club last month, I mentioned before that I focused on alignment instead of growth. I deliberately avoided investing in obvious pathways to growth that might attract members who wouldn’t be so well aligned with CGC’s values and culture. Interestingly, CGC grew in size by about 20%, and CGC’s internal diversity increased as well. CGC has become more internationally diverse with members from 26 countries this year. It has become more diverse in terms of members of different ethnicities, colors, and cultures. And it has more LGBTQ members than ever before.

One thing I did differently this year was that I added this short qualification list to the CGC invitation page to help potential members decide if they’re a good fit for CGC.

To qualify for a CGC membership, you must:

Be able to get along with people in a diverse online community. Keep CGC free of personal attacks as well as racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ, or otherwise demeaning communication.

Respect members’ privacy. The personal growth work we do inside CGC can involve discussing private and intimate details that members don’t want shared beyond CGC.

Accept members’ varied personal growth journeys. CGC includes many vegans, LGBTQ members, members exploring open relationships, and more. We welcome such diversity. It’s a CGC rule to give forum topics clear titles, so members who prefer to avoid certain topics can easily do so.

Not have been a Trump voter or supporter in the 2020 U.S. election. CGC is a Trump-free zone. The behavior of voting for Trump or supporting his platform (for any reason) is sufficient to disqualify someone from being a match for CGC’s values, culture, and diverse international membership. Moreover, I am unwilling to coach such people; it’s a personal boundary issue.

Out of curiosity, how many Trump supporters do you think complained about the last item above? The answer was actually zero, which didn’t surprise me. It doesn’t make much sense that any Trump supporters would want to join CGC anyway since their values are so divergent from ours. This statement isn’t really about them since they aren’t likely to be attracted to my work. The intent is to let qualified members know what they won’t have to deal with inside CGC, which is a benefit to some people.

Diversity is actually not one of CGC’s core values. Alignment is. For a group like CGC to function well, it’s good to have some diversity, but not at the cost of alignment. This is because members in the group tend to form strong relationships with each other, and for that to happen, we need a base level of strong compatibility around shared values.

Think of this like getting involved in any other kind of human relationship. Compatibility matters. Your compatibility with another person gives you a strong base of connection. Then it’s good to have lots of variety around that core compatibility. That keeps you interested and engaged in the relationship. Diversity provides ample opportunities to learn and grow together. So what you want is diversity within alignment, not diversity ahead of alignment.

To put diversity ahead of alignment would be like dating totally random people with no concerns about compatibility. That may be interesting as a temporary experience, but you’re unlikely to find a good match that way. You’ll probably end up with lots of blah or creepy experiences, or you may feel that you have to lower your alignment standards to have a good experience.

By putting alignment ahead of diversity, we can say that we welcome anti-racist but not racist behavior in CGC. We can say that we’ll maintain an LGBTQ-friendly and a vegan-friendly culture inside, which means we’re not going to permit an opposing culture to take root.

Would it be more pro-diversity to invite people with opposing values to join the club too? Perhaps, but it would also be a ridiculously bad idea – completely at odds with our purpose. In order to help each other grow, we need a strong enough base of compatibility to actually want to help each other. CGC works best when members help each other willingly, not grudgingly. We want to go for genuine caring, not tolerance (which is resistance to love). And interestingly, one thing that helps us align with this purpose is knowing that we’re also working against opposing forces elsewhere in the world.

Inside the club we can create a unique safe haven that’s strongly protected from those opposing societal influences. CGC is a unique cultural island in that sense. There are a lot of societal pressures that we don’t have to deal with inside. And that’s because we focus on maintaining a certain kind of alignment around shared values, and then we welcome diversity within that alignment (but not outside of it).

In this kind of environment, people thrive. They get to access and experience parts of themselves that had been previously suppressed. They can drop the masks that they no longer need. Internally they’re able to discover more diversity within themselves as well. Finding strong social alignment open the door to such inner diversity.

What’s also interesting is that when we have this core social base of high-alignment connections in our lives, we can handle a lot more diversity beyond our values. The rest of the world’s misalignments become less upsetting and aren’t so disempowering when we feel so empowered to invest in what matters to us.

I don’t think it’s necessary (or even wise) to reach out and build a bridge to people whose values are very misaligned with yours. I think that will just water down your experience of life, and it’s a distraction from going all-in with the rich alignment you could invest in instead. You may be surprised to see how many transformational ripples you create by investing fully in the values that matter to you and shedding links and anchors to opposing values. Keeping a foot in the world of misalignments doesn’t serve you, and it doesn’t actually help others. It just keeps you anchored to various forms of scarcity, and it keeps your inner diversity from fully expressing itself.