The band Three Dog Night sang it best in their song titled “One,” with the lyrics that go like this:
“One is the loneliest number that you will ever do.
Two can be as bad as one.
It’s the loneliest number since the number one.”
Yes, one is the loneliest number until you add a second.
Pause for a minute. Have you ever thought about the significance (what is unique) about taking something and adding a second one to it? When you have just one, there is nothing to compare it to. Add a second to the first and mathematics begins, which is the science and study of quantity, structure, space, and change.
Think about it. When you have just the one number, there is nothing to compare it to. Add a second number and you can compare one and two, or you can add one and one to get two. Add a third number and you can begin to see the differences between odd and even numbers. Add a fourth and you can begin to define prime and non-prime numbers. Assuming you have two things (e.g., numbers) that are the same, you can methodically run an experiment, isolate dependent and independent variables, and compare results.
But what if you just have one number and nothing to compare it to? That’s what I call the science of similar, meaning, if you have only one, find something similar, call it two, and compare it.
Let me use our planet as a mental model to illustrate how the science of similar works. Earth is unique, one of a kind. In absence of another Earth, all we can compare it to are similar planets, such as Venus or Mars. While each planet rotates similarly on an axis, it is the difference in the tilt of the axis and the speed of rotation that defines in part how they are different. Thus, the science of similar is not about how the planets are the same, but more about how they are different.
Let’s look at the sexes as a means to understand the concept. We are all similar and live on planet Earth, but as the title of John Gray’s book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, suggests, men and women are seemingly as different as different can be!
How does the science of similar apply to coaching? On the surface, life coaching, personal coaching, executive coaching, and even attention coaching appear to be the same as they are all about coaching people. But, as a coach, I recognize that individuals are all different. So for me, it is more about understanding how we are different than how we are the same. After all, if we are all the same, then the obvious solution would always work all the time; right? As they say, there are small differences among people, but it’s the small differences that make a big difference.
At DIG Coaching we have a philosophy. When you have an issue, apply the obvious solution. If it works, great! If it doesn’t work, chances are you are paying attention to the wrong thing. To pay attention to the right thing, move away from looking at how you are like everyone else and focus on how you are different, focus on how you do things.
Think about it. If you dwell on how you are the same as others, you will end up with a “we are all the same” solution, which won’t always work, especially in the areas where you are different. My point is, when the obvious solution isn’t working, use the science of similar and pay attention to how you are different. Chances are that your obvious solution will more likely be based on how you are different than on how you are the same.
Thanks for taking time to read this article. Please post a comment below and let me know if you can relate to the science of similar. I always appreciate your input.