Seed World

Have You Considered: What If You’re Wrong? 

Every Wednesday morning (Wednesday nights for our team in Europe), we gather our entire global Seed World team for a Zoom meeting we call Heads Up. Heads Up is a way for our team to connect, stay up to date, pitch ideas, and talk big picture. (If you’re not already doing something like this with your team, I highly recommend it). 

During this week’s call, I threw a polarizing topic — how people are feeling about getting COVID vaccine boosters — into the open discussion part of our chat, just to see how our team tackled controversy. Crickets, to start. While I absolutely know that each person on that call has an opinion, vaccines have become such a political flashpoint that it felt awkward throwing their opinions wide open to the larger group, even though this is a very close-knit and cohesive group. I see that reticence as a big problem indicative of a bigger problem in our society and — yes — our industry.

Let me be frank: like most people, I have an opinion about COVID vaccines. Actually, I feel really strongly about it. If you’ve ever spent three minutes with me, you’ll know I feel strongly about a whole bunch of topics. What my opinion is on those topics, however, doesn’t matter nearly as much as what I do with those opinions. 

I watch Fox News and CNN. I’ve got pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine feeds on my social media. I follow non-GMO and pro-GMO advocates. I spend every day promoting our seed industry, but I read and regularly forward articles from the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (if you don’t know it, CCFI is actively anti-science and anti-big ag). Why? I’m absolutely convinced my understanding other’s perspectives is the first step to having authentic discussions that break down barriers … and maybe even convincing others to hear my perspective too. 

In our increasingly polarized reality, the worst thing we can do is hide in an echo-chamber of like-minded thoughts. What is it that ‘the other side’ sees that we’re not seeing? What if — occasionally and in small or big ways — some of what they’re saying is actually right? If we can’t actively listen and seek to understand how, what and why others think the way they do, we have no chance for better understanding on — let me be very clear about this — both sides.  

There are loads of polarizing topics in our industry right now. How are we informing ourselves? Can we find opportunities to weight train and flex our critical thinking, big-picture-seeing mental muscles? 

Are we so busy talking just to ourselves that we incorrectly start thinking we’re actually always right? 

I’m not going to say I’m always good at this. After our team opened up about their perspectives on vaccination, I said, “That discussion renewed my faith in humanity.” 

My own son, Aiden, who’s our Business Development Manager, called me on it. “Is your renewed faith in humanity only because almost everyone matched up to your way of thinking?”

Well said, Aiden. It’s seems I’ve got more work to do. 

Shawn Brook is President of Seed World Group.