Fundamentally, people are not all the same. Those of us with families recognize this all the time when we observe our own siblings and children with vastly different skills and aptitudes. Based on genetics and/or environment, we all have different strengths and weaknesses. There is nothing wrong with recognizing this reality.
At the same time, it is essential to avoid using a single anecdotal experience to justify taking extreme positions. Science has shown that individuals with a single common identifiable characteristic posses a range of capabilities. As a result, I generally avoid the use of the words ‘always‘ and ‘never‘.
As a parent of two sons, I have tried to impress upon my children the need for clear thinking about people. I was searching for a simple phrase that expresses my views, which are best described as a combination of an “engineer’s logic” and an “entrepreneur’s resourcefulness”.
I derived this outlook about people and life from the viewpoint fostered by successful global corporations: “Think globally, act locally”. This business expression reflects how the largest world-wide corporations have come to the realization that it’s most efficient to generalize and develop products for application all around the world. However, this expression also recognizes the importance of adjusting for the specific differences that exist between individual cultures.
In my view, it is illogical to ignore stereotypes if it is the only statistical data that is available in making decisions about people (thus, profiling can be a logical process in certain situations). Hence, the portion of the expression: “Think Stereotypically“. Meanwhile, my view is also one of respecting any person on the planet (regardless of race, religion, handicap, etc.) as potentially being an individual worthy of providing value to society. Thus, the expression: “Act Individually“.