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Chapter 6:
The Strength and Challenge of Diversity
Abstract
Research has shown that when you do something repeatedly, your brain creates habitual neural pathways that allow you to complete the task without paying much attention to it. This is an evolutionarily adaptive tendency, because it allows you to think about newer, more interesting things while you complete a familiar task, but at the same time, it allows you to mechanically go through the motions without paying attention to what you are doing. The more you do something, the more habitual it is and the better your brain gets at automating it, conserving processing power for other things. This sort of neurological efficiency is also what tends to keep us doing familiar things instead of trying new ones. New activities are hard and require a lot more processing power than ones that are familiar, for which we have already built convenient and efficient neural pathways. This can lead us to avoid things that are new or too unfamiliar. When it comes to diversity, we naturally gravitate towards people who seem familiar. We already know them personally, they look like us, or they look like other people we know well. This tendency can lead us to spend networking events with our existing friends and colleagues rather than make connections with new people, and it is the enemy of both networking and diversity.
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CHAPTER 6
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