In the end, we all want a little kindness

Photo credit: by  Antenna  on  Unsplash

Photo credit: by Antenna on Unsplash

I’ve been doing a series of video interviews for an event called Gather that I’m hosting — all about brave, honest conversations. In reflecting on what people are telling me when I ask them about brave, honest conversations I’m struck that at our core we are all seeking connection. That is why we come together — in friendships, families, community. To be connected.

Its easy to get lost in our busy lives and our to do lists, goals and some days just getting through the day — but there is so much more. If you peel away the layers and just sit with someone else in conversation there is this magic that happens — being seen, seeing others, allowing yourself to talk about what matters most. It’s like when you slow enough to sit with someone else you can dip into your own gentle heart to see what it has to tell you. These are the moments our lives are made up of, and for so many people these moments are few and far between.

n these video interviews I’ve been asking the same general series of questions about brave, honest conversations along these lines:

  • What are you committed to personally? What do you believe or what motivates you?

  • What needs to be present to have brave, honest conversations?

  • Where have you struggled or been challenged?

  • What are your insights or advice to others?

  • What is your hope for the future?

The wisdom and honest insight people are sharing gives me hope and strikes me to my core. I have found over the last year that when I use the 3 words “brave, honest conversations” they create a resonance and a yearning in people that is powerful. We all want more of what happens when we have those kind of conversations — we are all drawn to the possibility they can create in our lives. At the same time most of us are hesitant, afraid, and uncertain about stepping into these kinds of conversations, in all parts of our lives. They feel big, uncertain, scary.

I think we’ve normalized all the not talking we do each day, all the ways in which we don’t bring our whole selves to others, the ways we avoid or distract ourselves from being with the heart of things. Although I’m in the business of brave, honest conversations even I don’t want to have them all the time, every day! They can be heavy and exhausting and wear you out. But if we don’t have them, we also don’t have connection, belonging or a sense of what matters most.

I always say that brave, honest conversations are how we solve the problems in our worlds, together. That’s true but its the outcome or result of brave, honest conversations. Before you get there you get all these other beautiful things that create the most important moments in our lives; you get curiosity, kindness, opening hearts, listening, deeper understanding, connection…and then perhaps solutions co-created together.

Outrage is our new norm. We live in times of polarization, blame, shame and vitriol where the sides between people are getting further and further apart and yet at the same time there is this deep yearning and desire for conversation and connection, for peeling back the layers to find kindness and to sit and talk with someone else about things that matter. That yearning is widespread — in organizations, in communities, in families, within yourself.

So here is some random wisdom I’m gathering from these interviews. If you want more brave, honest conversations in your life think about these insights and apply to yourself. There are simple and also deeply profound — as if we all learned them in kindergarten and then forgot them over time. Now we need to re-learn them.

Be kind. In a time when people are so quick to shout their opinions and demean others who don’t agree with them, people are yearning for a little kindness. If you want this for yourself, try giving it to others.

Get curious. Curiosity requires you to be open, to let go of judgment, to explore and see what is out there in the world. Curiosity is required for creativity, and is the path to understanding. Choose a mindset of wonder and surprise.

Be humble. The world is full of people shouting their answers and expertise loudly and stridently. None of us have all the answers (because we wouldn’t have any problems if we had all the answers and were all right). Lighten up a little, accept that you make mistakes and step into the humanity of who you are. When you do that your heart unfolds and sometimes it allows other people to do it too.

Have brave, honest conversations with yourself. The first and most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. Self-awareness and self-knowledge are crucial to leadership and to your ability to create strong relationships. Most people spend very little time having tough conversations with themselves, and instead focus on other’s wrongdoings, mistakes, errors, difficulties and missteps. I like to say that leadership is an inside job-if you can look deeply into yourself, it will allow you to look deeply into others.

Come home to yourself. Find out what matters most to you, what you are committed to, what you believe in and bring your whole authentic self to the world. When you live from a place of deep authenticity anything is possible. When you put on a mask — your professional mask, your parent mask, your wanting to be liked mask etc. — you create a barrier and a disconnect from others. Just be you, at home in your own skin, and live from there.

Take responsibility. You are at choice every day, in every moment of your life. In your relationships, in your conversations — you are the architect of your own life. When you choose to avoid the conversation or to put something else as more important, you are also choosing the consequences of the state of that relationship or issue. Choose thoughtfully — not every day has to be full of deep, heartfelt conversations but some days should have them.

Get messy. Brave, honest conversations are hard, uncertain and messy. There is no straight line and they aren’t for the faint of heart. Not all your conversations are going to go well or the way you hope. Try to let go of expectations and just step forward. These conversations can reap the biggest rewards of your life and they require you to be OK with being scared, uncomfortable and uncertain.

Be there for someone else. When I asked one interviewee what he hopes for the future he said, “I hope that we can be there for these human beings who are entrusted to us for the time we are with them so they know they can talk to us, that we are there for them, that we care. I hope we can realize that the humans in front of us are far more important than anything else we do today.” That about sums up what it’s all about. Let go of the rest of it and be there for someone else today.


Photo credit: Nick Fewings, Unsplash

Photo credit: Nick Fewings, Unsplash

I want for all of us to have the connection that comes from having brave, honest conversations.

I want for all of us to find our courage and compassion to talk together about what matters most.

It starts with you, with a first step. Let go of all the things you have to do, and just take a moment for a conversation with someone else, about something that matters. You will be surprised at what happens.

#Braveaf is true — some days. Just not today.

#braveaf hashtag we created to draw attention to upcoming events we are hosting at bravelylead.com

#braveaf hashtag we created to draw attention to upcoming events we are hosting at bravelylead.com

I’m sitting at home alone on a Friday night drinking a glass of wine, watching romantic comedies, writing in my journal and nursing a massively huge vulnerability hangover. Massive.

My husband is away skiing in Japan, the child who lives at home is out tonight and I’m coming down from weeks of putting myself out into the world in open, risky and vulnerable ways. I’m feeling the opposite of #braveaf tonight. I’m feeling sad, sorry for myself and unworthy.

When we dared to dream up that #braveaf hashtag to promote upcoming events we thought it would be memorable and reflect my commitment to brave, honest conversations. It’s not that I’m not committed to brave, honest conversations anymore — of course I am. To my core I believe that bravely leading challenging conversations are how we solve the problems in our lives, organizations and communities.

But today I’m tired. Tired of putting my work and commitment out into the world and risking rejection. Tired of practicing courage and compassion. Tired of bravely leading.

It turns out some days I don’t have any more brave left in me. We joked when we created the #braveaf hashtag that we should have t-shirts made and I should record videos while wearing my t-shirt. Today my t-shirt would say #sadandlonely #drinkingwine #nursingavulnerabilityhangover. At the very least my t-shirt could say — I’m not feeling very #braveaf today.

It’s a lesson I learned a long time ago, and keep re-learning; that gathering your courage and stepping into it requires you to also have times when you do the opposite. When you step back, retreat and rejuvenate.

The last few weeks have resulted in all of my fears rising. I believe so strongly that the world needs a new kind of leader, willing to show up and take a stand, willing to have brave, honest conversations so we can find solutions together. So I’ve created new events and ways to bring that commitment to the world. After a few months of creation and weeks of putting it out there I’m questioning myself, wondering if I’m building things that aren’t wanted or needed. I’m feeling a bit like Kevin Costner, only I’m building it and not sure if they will come. (If you are much younger than me just google “Field of Dreams” to get that reference.)

I know this is the way it goes when you are an entrepreneur. You risk big and put new ideas into the world. You create, dream and imagine. You build a business based on your ideas, values and commitment. I’ve been an entrepreneur a long time — but that doesn’t make it any easier today. I can’t not do the things that are calling me. I’m assuming that brave, honest conversations are wanted in the world. Tonight I’m questioning that. Maybe it’s only me who wants them? This is a really big pity party I’m at. Tonight I’m wondering if this is instead a great year for working part time, travelling a lot and finishing my book — and leaving the heavy lifting of creating new ways of leading in the world to others.

I guess that is why they call it courage.

You can’t be brave unless you are afraid.

Tonight my version of brave is messy, sad, has low self-esteem and is eating chocolate. And I’m hoping that is OK. I will let you know when I’ve created the t-shirt. We can wear them together on the days when we are NOT #braveaf.

A) Note: If you are interested in joining me for more brave, honest conversations please check out GATHER: 5 days of Brave, Honest Conversations ONLINE from May 13-17, 2019.

B) Another note: In 2018 I wrote a list of what living brave looks like for me. (I probably should have read it before I launched #braveaf!) If you would like to have that list of 8 tips for living brave sent to your inbox please click here.

Are you racist and don’t know it?

Photo credit: Matteo Paganelli on Unsplash

Photo credit: Matteo Paganelli on Unsplash

I’ve led a number of really brave, honest conversations lately, where the space between people was laden with emotion, judgment, assumption and power imbalances. Being able to stay with the conversation, take people into it together and bring them back out again has taken all my skill, experience and leadership. And yet, in one situation I have no idea if I did things “right” or if I contributed to a status quo that is unsustainable and unjust. This particular conversation keeps running through my head. You tell me what you would have done, and what you see when you read this.

I was leading a session with an internal team committed to meaningful consultation and engagement with indigenous peoples on a highly controversial topic. My role was to help them with skills, knowledge, and approaches to create the space for brave, honest conversations and to also help them think through how they wanted to lead themselves in these important discussions.

The group was made of people from across the country and included people of European descent, First Nation and Metis.

There were a lot of tough conversations in the room between the group, symbolic of the tough conversations they will have with indigenous communities and nations when they begin consulting.

In one of the conversations a comment was made about a situation where three team members at a higher level in the organizational heirarchy had attended a separate meeting to work out some process details about communication: “Three white Directors decide what we will communicate to indigenous people without an indigenous person in the room.” The comment was accompanied by an eye roll and a sarcastic tone. It is important to note that the comment was made by a participant who is Metis. (Since this is a blog about underlying racism, race matters.)

Here is what I did: Not much. I checked for reaction in the room and by the Directors. In my reading of the space I read that the comment was received as fact. It was true that this had happened and was an important note about how the system operates. I made a statement to connect that comment to a previous conversation we’d already had about how we need to ASK indigenous communities rather than TELL and then I moved on.

The next morning I was leading the opening session inviting a conversation about what people witnessed, experienced and learned on the previous day. Here is what happened:

  • One of the Directors (of European descent — I point this out because this is a blog where race matters) shared that he had been really offended by the statement (he had to refresh our memory on what and when it had been said) because he had dedicated many years in his career to meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples, he was really committed to doing things right, and he was offended at being labelled and judged.

  • I asked him if he would be willing to help us understand his experience and had him talk through what had come up for him, what he had felt and experienced, what it had done to his ability to participate and to be in relationship with other team members.

  • The team member (who is of Metis descent) who made the statement had not known that his statement was received as hurtfuland was genuinely surprised it had this impact. I offered that I had noted the statement but had registered only that it was factual.

  • The team member who made the statement offered an apology and also shared something that made him vulnerable. I interpreted that offering as a door open to more conversation and sharing between the two. The Director took it as dismissive.

  • We talked about how to talk about these issues as a team, and discussed what other challenges might arise and I shared some tips for being able to continue talking, noting that it is the things they don’t talk about that will cause them harm.

  • We talked specifically about judgments and assumptions about each other and how to surface and clear them. We discussed how important it will be to keep checking and clearing assumptions as they move forward.

Recounting the exchange I continue to be uncertain. In the room in the moment I stayed, I invited, I held space and worked with what was there. I surfaced judgments and assumptions and emotions. But here are the questions that keeps rattling around my brain:

  • By focusing the conversation on the hurt felt by a participant who is part of the power structure and of European decsent was I not just perpetuating the status quo that leaves indigenous voices unheard and unseen, (in this case in government systems and organizations)?

  • Is the calling out of hurt feelings based on a factual comment simply hidden racism?

  • Does it not reinforce power and status quo and marginalize those who question the existing approach as problematic? Does that make it racism when those who are marginalized in the conversation and questioning the approach are also indigenous people?

  • Was I not subtly supporting systemic racism?

  • I’m even struggling with choosing the right words here — have I used the right language to refer to race and people in this conversation?

In the middle of leading this conversation I had to remind myself what I’m committed to; I believe that brave, honest conversations are how we solve the problems in the world — together. That through deep, tough conversations we see each other, understand each other and connect so we can find a way forward.

It occurs to me that if this kind of thing is hard to talk about within this group, when they go out into communities they will hear far harder things about the role government has played.

If government wants to walk the path towards reconciliation it takes far more than taking a new approach to consulation with indigenous communities; it will take some really brave, honest conversations inside the organizations that perpetuate the power imbalance and the status quo that created the need for reconciliation.

We can’t do something different without actually being different.

It seems to me that perhaps there is a space between truth and reconciliation where the path might emerge.

We all need to turn our eyes to the truth first to really be able to see it, feel it, witness in order to be different and to choose differently in order to start the long walk to reconciliation. The statement that was said was factual — and it pointed to the system that is unknowingly perpetuating challenges. It is only when we can really see that truth that change might come. It won’t come from talking the talk but walking the easy, comfortable, familiar path that created this system in the first place.

I have the sense that many indigenous communities and nations are ready for these conversations. The people in this room on these couple of days are grappling with what it will take to step into reconciliation. I’m hopeful that this messy, thoughtful, tough conversation was a step on the path to a new relationship. I’m less certain that systems and structures of government are ready for what reconcilitation means and for what needs to change.

How to choose a courageous leader to vote for in upcoming elections

Photo credit: Austin Chan, Unsplash

Photo credit: Austin Chan, Unsplash

There are a lot of elections coming up and a lot of leaders out there asking for your support. In some situations every single vote will make a difference as candidates put forward vastly different platforms and look for you to be on their side.

It’s the sides that trouble me. Politics is often presented as a conversation between winners and losers, those who are for and those who are against a particular issue. No one wins in the long run when we are so divided that we leave half of us behind. More than ever we need leaders willing to cross lines, close the divide, and bring people together to solve the challenges we face. We’ve got some big challenges, and its going to take a leader with the ability to collaborate, inspire and have some tough conversations so we can move forward.

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Your choices have long-term impacts on government policy, budget allocations and the community that gets created in the future. Choosing carefully matters. Using your voice to take action in support of a candidate you believe in to canvas, fundraise and speak to neighbours and friends contributes to the quality of the democracy we live in, and the quality of the candidates we get to vote for.

The system we’ve got isn’t perfect. In fact, it could be dramatically improved upon. However at the moment it’s the system we’ve got and it is far more open and connected to the views of citizens than many other systems.

So your vote matters — a lot.

I have a foundational belief that brave, honest conversations are how we solve the problems in our world and that the world needs a new kind of leader who stands for something, shows up and changes the world for the better. You want to vote for someone who stands for something you also believe in and who will work with others to create positive change.

In service to that core belief about brave, honest conversations and a new kind of leader I’ve done a lot of thinking the last few years about what a courageous leader looks like and created a framework of core competencies. I hope this helps you think about the candidates you want to work with going forward.

A model of Courageous Leadership, copyright The Courageous Leadership Project,    www.bravelylead.com

A model of Courageous Leadership, copyright The Courageous Leadership Project, www.bravelylead.com

Commitment and Faith

Leaders know what they stand for, what they believe in and what they have unwavering commitment to. It is about their values and also more than that; it is those guiding foundational beliefs demonstrated by attitudes, behaviours and actions so that choices are aligned and leadership is deeply authentic. This component of courageous leadership builds positivity and possibility in the conversation with others and creates choices for the future. This mindset allows leaders to focus on what they stand for rather than what they are against.

When looking at candidates to support, ask yourself these questions:

  • What does the leader stand for?

  • What are they committed to?

  • Where do your values align with their values?

  • What attitudes and behaviours do they demonstrate that resonate with you?

  • What does the leader want more of, to build or create in the world?

Integrity and Courage

When a leader is acting from a place of integrity and courage they have clarity on what they want to create in the world and are brave enough to move towards it. They are aware of and responsible for their impact on others and the world around them, and work to have a positive impact.

Photo credit: Oliver Cole, Unsplash

Photo credit: Oliver Cole, Unsplash

A courageous leader is able to articulate the ethics and principles that guide their choice making in a transparent and open way. Integrity and courage combat fear and uncertainty in challenging situations and make people want to work together. Leaders who operate from integrity and courage have a deep well of self-awareness and stay the course when conflict or tension emerges.

When looking at candidates to support, ask yourself these questions:

  • What direction are their conversations and statements going? Towards positivity and openness or towards division and polarization?

  • How well do the leader’s actions and words align?

  • How does the leader respond when differences of viewpoints or conflict emerges?

  • How well do the leader’s responses under stressful situations align with the way you want to show up in the world?

  • What is the change the leader is advocating for? What will be different than it is right now?

Openness & Connection

Courageous leaders create a space around them that fuels connection, ideas and collaboration. They ask rather than tell and demonstrate actions that spark conversation, allow people with divergent views to connect and learn from each other, and build a sense of meaningful inclusion where people feel they matter.

A courageous leader creates experiences and a feeling you want to be part of because that vision reflects the world the way you also want it to be. The sense of connection and intimacy that we are in this together creates powerful momentum for positive change.

When looking at candidates to support, ask yourself these questions:

  • How does the leader make you feel? What emotions bubble up when you listen to or observe the leader?

  • Who does the leader surround herself / himself with? Is there a widely divergent group of supporters and partners who share different viewpoints, backgrounds and experiences?

  • Does the leader create a positive space to solve challenges with others, or solve challenges and ask others to react?

  • Is there a space in the leader’s future ideas and vision you can see yourself in?

  • Is the leader willing to be with uncertainty and work to find the right solution that works long-term?

Influence & Enrolling

Courageous leaders inspire and empower others to make a choice to participate, to be in relationship, to trust in a more positive future. Leaders authentically lead from their own unique set of values and beliefs, commit with courage to a vision and invite others to help make it real. Courageous leaders are willing to fail, to not have all the answers and to work with others to find durable solutions.

Leaders call for change, have clarity on the change they want to create in the world, take responsible actions towards that change and recognize they have bigger impact and create more momentum the more people there are who have an active role in the change agenda that is co-created.

When looking at candidates to support, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you feel like you could play an active role in the positive change the leader is calling for?

  • Does the leader bring new ideas to the table that challenge the status quo and offer new ways of thinking and acting?

  • Does the leader make you feel part of something and that solutions are possible?

  • Does the leader act from a mindset of invitation, advocating and empowering (rather than telling, dictating or deciding for others)?

Photo credit: Parker Johnson, Unsplash

Photo credit: Parker Johnson, Unsplash

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

The world needs a new kind of leader who stands for something, shows up and creates positive change in the world.

Your voice matters, and your vote does too.

Creating from chaos, some monkeys and a circus

Photo credit: Andre Mouton, Unsplash

Photo credit: Andre Mouton, Unsplash

This blog could really be titled how the circus came to town and I got totally lost in the chaos.

We moved this summer after living in the same house where we raised our family for 16 years. Like most moves, things didn’t go the way I planned. The chaos of the move spilled out into all aspects of my life.

I will be honest — I had PLANS, big ones. Plans about how things would go, how fast progress would happen, when all the tradespeople would be done in the new house, when the new house would feel like a home. I took the summer off from work so I could be with my family and do the work of unpacking, organizing and setting up our new home. I knew September would come quickly, and with it a renewed travel schedule and a busy workload and I was excited to “get ‘er done” while I could. The clock was ticking and I had a list.

I set an intention of patience. It was all going to be fine and I was going to go with the flow. Pretty much every morning I woke up and told myself today I would be patient and easy going and our space would become a home. I held those intentions pretty tight. Honestly…I held the intention like there was no way it would be possible for the universe to be allowed to not get its shit together so my house could be finished being organized. Not a whole lot of openness there. Every night I’d be a little more frustrated, tense, disappointed with what hadn’t been completed.

As August rolled through we moved all our belongings into the new house and turned over possession of the old house to the new people. We had the new house painted and new light fixtures and closet organizers installed. Then things stalled out:

  • Furniture deliveries were delayed.

  • The folks refinishing some old furniture are now 4 weeks overdue delivering the pieces they were working on.

  • The basement office and bathroom I hoped would be done by mid August should be done by the end of September.

  • The basement family room remains unpacked with furniture piled up high, and the office downstairs is in boxes while that area remains a construction zone.

  • The furniture being made for my office is 4 weeks overdue, with delivery expected by the end of September, so my office is a lovely green room full of boxes and piles of books.

  • The living room is functional but there are countless boxes of books, paintings and family mementos waiting for the day the cabinet maker finishes building the shelves and cupboards around the fireplace.

On a positive note, the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen are unpacked and work pretty well.

I made a new friend recently, and part way through our conversation he said, “Not my monkeys, not my circus” as we talked about situations of human drama. It’s been playing over and over again in my head. It’s an easy phrase to remember; one of those lines that speaks of a universe of experience in choice making in just six words.

His comment made me think of my last few months and which circuses I visited, and how many monkeys I wrangled. The foundation of “not my monkeys, not my circus” is to be unattached to challenges that are not yours. It creates clear boundaries and borders for what you engage in, interact with and become emotionally invested in. It also connects to which problems you decide you need to fix, and what role you play in those problems; ringmaster, trapeze artist, monkey or audience.

Over the course of this chaos I interacted with every monkey that presented itself (and to be honest I attempted to wrestle most of them back in to their cages). I imagined myself the circus ringmaster. It turns out I wasn’t even an act, much less an audience member. I was on the sidelines without a ticket thinking I was in charge.

This has been such a great reminder to set a real honest intention about how you want to show up in times of chaos, before the chaos has its way with you.

My office in chaos, the day we moved in.

My office in chaos, the day we moved in.

Back to the move. This was what my office looked like the week we moved in to the new house. It looks better now. Now the boxes are nicely piled up along the edges of the room. I can sit on the couch and use a lovely big plastic bin on top of a stool as a desk.

It is now September and summer is gone and I’m back in the thick of work.

I’ve got a new intention. It goes like this — life is crazy, messy, and unpredictable. There are countless circuses I could attend, and thousands of monkeys seeking my attention. Life doesn’t go in a straight line or according to plan. In the larger picture of our lives who really cares if my desk is a large plastic bin surrounded by boxes? We will eventually be unpacked. Home is where the heart is and I’m deeply grateful for our family, our lives and this new adventure. It’s just going to be what it is, and that includes moments of fun, happiness, frustration, anxiety, discomfort and straight up construction mess. But probably not patience — I’m not going to commit to patience this time.

When you are setting intentions in a chaotic time in your life, maybe ask yourself some questions so you can be present and open. Put your to do list away. These questions would probably would have been good for me to have used too!

  • How do I want to show up during this chaotic time in my life?

  • What emotions are probably going to run my life?

  • Where might I get stuck?

  • How can I be gentle and care for myself while I ride the storm of chaos?

  • What do I need from others to support me in this mess?

  • How might I offer support to others riding the storm?

  • When this is done and I look back, what do I hope will have happened?

  • Are these my monkeys? Is this my circus? Do I want them to be?

  • If I do step forward into this circus, what’s my role?

There is no avoiding the chaos; its just part of life. The difference is in how you ride the chaos, moving through the drama rather than into the middle of performance.

If you can, try not to ride it the way I did. But whatever happens, the chaos will give you gifts of learning, insight and opportunity if you are willing to see them.

What is your super power?

Me, wearing my super hero cape, stepping into my super powers that allow me to have brave, honest conversations.

Me, wearing my super hero cape, stepping into my super powers that allow me to have brave, honest conversations.

No one is born knowing how to brave, honest conversations about issues that really matter. This isn’t a skill anyone comes out of the womb with, and being in a particular position or role doesn’t mean you’ve figured out how to talk about tough stuff. It takes a combination of skills, knowledge, attitude and behaviour to be able to really have brave, honest conversations with yourself, in your organization, community or family.

It takes deep self-awareness to have tough conversations, because what I step into when I have these conversations is different than what you will step into. We are different people, and our strengths are different. You need to bring your whole self to brave, honest conversations, and leverage your own special gifts and strengths in service of talking together to find solutions about complex problems.

I like to think of these special gifts and strengths as your very own super power, that you step into and embody in emotional, challenging, high stakes conversations.

Recently I attended Rick Tamlyn’s Bigger Game Live conference where I asked people:

A participant finds her super power and puts on the super hero cape.

A participant finds her super power and puts on the super hero cape.

What super power allows you to have brave, honest conversations?

I heard some amazing answers from participants at the conference:

  • Empowering others to see their own worth
  • Listening and asking powerful questions
  • Tapping into people’s happiness meter (described to me as helping them see and use what makes them happiest)
  • Cutting to the chase! Getting to the heart of the issue.
  • I am approachable and people feel they can talk to me about anything
  • Sensing when to be silent
  • I create relationship, connection and intimacy really fast
  • Big, bold vision
  • I am a safe space for people to talk to and bring their pain, challenge and heartache
  • I help others see the greatness within themselves
  • I bring reverence and irreverence to the same conversation
  • My super power is generosity
  • I bring energy and excitement
  • My super power is boldness
  • I can be fully present and in the moment
  • My super power is listening
  • I bring certainty and I simplify things
  • I am courageous and brave

This is a beautiful list of attitudes, behaviours and skills.

What strikes me about these super powers is that when the people who hold them step into them fully, they are powerful, committed and in service to others. These things that are about them being their most authentic become about more than them alone. They extend their impact beyond themselves into the world around them. Their super powers create positive impact and possibility because they are committed to someone else.

We live in a world intensely focused on personal growth, self-help, individual needs and desires. In that world, we can get trapped in our heads, worrying about our needs, fears and anxieties. Yet when we step into our best selves in service to others we become more possible, more powerful than we were before.

I think we all want to bring our best selves to the situations and relationships that matter most to us. If you want that too, here are my questions for you to think about:

· What is your super power that allows you to have brave, honest conversations?

· What gifts and strengths make you your most powerful and possible?

· What can you step into that will allow you to connect with others in brave, honest conversations?

How NOT to write a book: facing fear & inadequacy in the woods

The setting for two weeks in the Canadian wilderness.

The setting for two weeks in the Canadian wilderness.

I turned 50 two weeks ago. I’ve never been someone who had challenges with birthdays; more often I’ve seen them as opportunities to reflect, be grateful and celebrate. Fifty has felt totally different — big, heavy, expectant; asking me what I am doing with this one short, precious life.

In anticipation of my fiftieth year I wrote a blog about the things I was going to do over the course of the year — #3 on that list was to write a book. I’ve told countless people in my life that I’m going to write that book this year. Its not pride or ego, instead it’s a desperate attempt to hold myself accountable to accomplishing this task that feels truly ginormous and fills me with fear.

I don’t know what makes your knees shake, but for me it is showing up fully as myself and being fully seen. That brings the risk of being judged and found lacking that comes with showing up and being seen. Writing this book is not a project for me, instead it feels like an unfolding.

In service to kick starting the writing of my book, I carved out two weeks in my schedule and booked a friend’s cottage in the woods. I came up to spend some days by myself to get things going, and then a week with the family (where I would continue to write for a few hours every day).

The path to the lake. Where I went when I needed to escape from my own thoughts. Which turned out to be pretty often.

The path to the lake. Where I went when I needed to escape from my own thoughts. Which turned out to be pretty often.

Like most things in life, things did not go exactly to plan. Here is how it went:

Day one:

This is going to be so great! I’m so excited to have this space and time to myself. I can write, paddle, read and get some space in my heart and head.

Day two:

This day starts really well. I meditate, do yoga and journal to start my day.

I feel nervous and anxious — what if I don’t accomplish anything while I’m up here? I’ve got my fear engine running in low gear in the background and I’m full of nervous energy searching for something to hold my attention.

I don’t know where to start.

It’s lonely up here by myself.

I have no cell service — I can’t call anyone, do research (or watch Netflix). I also can’t distract myself mindlessly online instead of writing my book.

Mild panic sets in. I spend an hour creating poems with magnetic poetry on the fridge, then go sit on the dock and read a novel. Finally I get bored enough that I can’t avoid working on the book.

I go back to the cottage and brainstorm all the different ways / areas of focus I could take with my book and write them on sticky notes. I post them on the wall and think about that for a bit.

I pull out a puzzle and start it. I tell myself I’m letting my thoughts percolate, but really I’m avoiding big thinking. That eventually gets boring so I go back to the book project.

One of many puzzles I used to distract myself and avoid writing the book.

One of many puzzles I used to distract myself and avoid writing the book.

I write all the things I know for sure about brave, honest conversations and put them on sticky notes and post them on the cottage windows. It turns out this is really interesting and captures my attention! These ideas reveal themes and suddenly I’ve got an outline with twelve chapters and topics and sub topics! I reconfirm my commitment to creating a call to action and a “how to guide” full of stories and lessons, so more people can have brave, honest conversations. This is why I came up here!

That was hard work — time for some chocolate to celebrate. And maybe a glass of wine.

Now I’ve got this outline but its suddenly overwhelming to think about how I go from 3 pages to 300 pages.

I have a sad little moment where I cry and feel really sorry for myself. Then it starts to rain so I feel even worse. I question my ability to do this. It’s a pretty ugly scene.

I realize its possible I might be sabotaging myself because if I write this book it might mean I will be fully seen — and judged — in the world.

I mull that over while I finish the puzzle. I go to bed early, but am awake for four hours in the middle of the night reading a novel. When I do sleep I have nightmares of zombies chasing me. You don’t need Freud to know those zombies are my fears.

Day three

Today is going to be different. I’m going to feel what I feel and do this anyway. I’m determined and committed. I meditate, do yoga but don’t journal because I’m not going to get sucked into a pity party this morning.

Its pouring rain so I can’t go distract myself on the dock.

The power goes out. I’m in a cottage in the woods alone, in the rain, and now I’m in the dark too. Freud would have a party with the symbolism of all of this.

I feel pissed off, sad and lonely. I didn’t journal about it but here I am anyway. A little scared too. This totally sucks.

I decide to open my computer and just see what happens. Next thing I know three hours have gone by and I’ve got notes, ideas, quotes, resources listed in all the chapters. It’s definitely not like chapters are written yet but what might fill each section out is starting to take shape. I can suddenly “feel” how this thing might come alive, like that first kick of a baby in my belly.

I grab a quick lunch and keep going. Now I’m wading through articles and research I’ve got on my computer, searching for examples, quotes, content that supports the topics in each chapter. After two more hours I feel like my head might explode.

The sun comes out. I spend an hour in the sunshine on the dock, meditating and reading a novel. I realize I’ve got some space in my heart and my head. I have a moment of deep gratitude for being alone in the woods with time to think.

I have a glass of wine, start another puzzle and feel pretty good about my day.

I create another poem on the fridge with magnetic poetry as I reflect on how you break free of your shadow self when you step into it.

One of many poems I posted on the fridge.

One of many poems I posted on the fridge.

I have a restless night full of dreams of running and searching and never quite finding what I’m looking for, always one step behind.

Day four

I wake early and go through my morning routine. The sun is shining and the weekend is supposed to be scorching. Some of the family will arrive late this afternoon.

Suddenly I’m worried I’ve only got this one last day by myself to write, when before the days alone felt endless. My fear engine has changed gear — now I’m focused on what if I don’t get enough done instead of whether I can do this at all.

I’m glad I did research and read other’s people’s thoughts yesterday but I wonder if that was another form of distraction. I realize I was looking for validation from scholars that I’m on the right path. I decide I’m going to write from my heart today.

Hours go by. I’m writing random stories, moments and ideas in each chapter. I’m not very good at colouring in the lines and I realize this book isn’t going to come together in an orderly way starting with chapter 1. It feels more like me to swirl in the moments, ideas, words, stories and then see the patterns and connections and see where they land in the book.

Hours and hours go by. I realize I’m still in my pajamas, haven’t showered and should clean up the sticky notes and flip charts scattered around the cottage because people will be here soon. Now I’m wondering how to best create a schedule that allows me to write while the family is here, so I can focus.

I’m in it now. It is calling to me. This has been such a beautiful human lesson in going through the trench before you can get to the other side (I make a note that this should be a section in the book, and consider how brave, honest conversations can sometimes feel harder before the pathway through them emerges.)

I write a new poem on the fridge. I wish for more magnets with different words so I can write poems of gratitude and possibility.

The next week

The next week flies. There are board games, swimming, paddle boarding, lots of great food and wine, good conversations and many novels read. There are hours on the deck, writing and thinking.

Countless jumping competitions off the dock into the cool water.

Countless jumping competitions off the dock into the cool water.

My mind has the book running in the background so I wake up each morning with new ideas and thoughts. While family have been here with me, I’ve written for a couple of hours every afternoon — trading naps for writing.

This book project has shifted from a burden to a choice in my mind, and that alone has been a valuable learning experience. While I’ve only got 30 pages written, and there are few guarantees anyone is going to want to read this book one day, it’s a great start to collecting my thoughts and getting clear on the contribution I want to make to others wanting to have brave, honest conversations in their lives, organizations and communities.

If you find yourself with something you want to bring alive in the world and are getting lost, overwhelmed and confused, try this:

· Get some awareness about what is going on. What are you afraid of? Recognize how that is showing up — are you avoiding? Distracting yourself? Really dig into what is happening for you.

· Be with your own crap. Feel sad, lonely, unworthy, confused, anxious. It’s counter intuitive, but the sooner you step into those emotions, the faster you move through them. You have to be really with them before you can get to the other side. The harder you try to avoid them, the longer they will hold you prisoner.

· Open up your heart and get some space in your head. Lock your phone in another room, turn off your email, go for a walk in the woods. Breathe. Let go of busyness and doing. Colour, paint, write poetry. Get on a paddle board. Open up your heart to creativity — it’s the place where possibility lives.

A remedy for the soul — an hour on a paddle board in the wildnerness.

A remedy for the soul — an hour on a paddle board in the wildnerness.

· Make a bargain with yourself. So you feel whatever you feel — now dive in and do something anyway. If you aren’t feeling it, set a timer and bargain with yourself; do the thing you need to do for an hour and then come up for air and see where you are at. Might be you can go another hour. The longer you go, the more committed you will be and the less overwhelming your emotions will be.

I’m still months away from being done this book project, but now it feels like a real living thing in my life waiting to be born, needing care, nurturing and attention. I’m still afraid about whether I can really do this and what will happen when I put it out into the world. But I’m happy to just be with those fears for now. At the moment I’m more committed to bringing brave, honest conversations to life than I am committed to being afraid. I can be afraid any day. These days I’m writing instead.

What your kids are NOT talking to you about

A circle of chairs waiting for the conversation to begin.

A circle of chairs waiting for the conversation to begin.

I recently spent a week of afternoons at our local elementary school running a series of workshops about Brave, Honest Conversations with a group of grade 7’s and 8’s. These kids are 12 and 13 years old.

I asked them how they feel about tough conversations, and what would be a hard thing for them to talk about, and who they would talk to about it. I asked them how they needed to act, behave and think in order to be in a tough conversation. They were thoughtful, insightful and touching. They were brave, smart and heart-breaking too. They were funny, quirky, awkward and earnest; everything kids at that age are meant to be.

When I asked them what topics are hard to talk about, I heard this:

  • Divorce
  • When someone in your family is doing something you don’t like
  • Not trusting someone close to you anymore
  • Death
  • Being bullied, feeling left out and lonely
  • Grades (and not getting the grades that are expected)
  • Being themselves instead of what other people want them to be
  • Being touched when they didn’t want to be
  • Talking about feelings
  • Asking for help

These are BIG, heavy issues — for anyone, but especially for 12 and 13 year olds just beginning to navigate the emotional minefield of human interactions. Some of these things continue to be on my list of tough conversations to have and I do this for a living. Like asking for help. Or being myself instead of what other people want me to be. These are universal topics, and they are hard to have no matter your age. I’m grateful the group felt like it was OK to even identify the issues so we could see the things they are thinking about — but not talking about.

Here is something that surprised and saddened me. When I asked them who they were talking to about these things, more than half of them said NO ONE. Not parents, family, teachers, coaches or friends. So many of them said they wouldn’t know how to start the conversation, and that they held the view that those they might have the conversation with aren’t interested. The kids talked about how they don’t have dinner with their family most nights, how their parents or family members are too busy with other things, or how they live in the same house but everyone eats separately or hangs out doing things on their own like watching t.v., doing homework, on the computer.

Some of the kids said they might talk to a friend or teacher about these things, but for most of them the hardest part was knowing where to start the conversation or how to say they needed to have one.

Most of the kids said that they approached tough conversations by avoiding them at all costs.

How is it that by this young age our children have already integrated the message that to be vulnerable is to be weak? What does that mean for their future? For their ability to build resilience, emotional intelligence or to solve tough problems? How will they build connection and intimacy with others if they can’t talk about real things?

Knowing how to have Brave, Honest Conversations is a LIFE SKILL.

Every day doesn’t need to be full of tough conversations, but when you need to have one it matters that you can step into the conversation so you can find your way through. So we started there — what do they see in others who are having tough conversations?

We talked about youth leaders championing tough issues and watched videos of a variety of youth doing hard things in tough situations. The group identified things they saw in those youth leaders:

  • compassionate
  • brave
  • courageous
  • kind
  • thoughtful
  • calm
  • knowledgeable
  • know your own mind
  • not caring what others think

There was this beautiful moment when I asked the group to review the list and then take a couple of dots and put them on the things they had in common with youth leaders having tough conversations. It was beautiful to see that these youth could see themselves as leaders who are also brave, courageous, compassionate and more. The look in their own eyes when they saw that these character traits were not about someone else, but were inside them was where the shift happened.

I gave the group homework — to interview other people about brave, honest conversations with 3 questions, and to take a couple conversation cards home and see what happened when they tried to have the conversation with their families. All of them conducted the interviews. The majority of them tried to have conversations at home, and we debriefed what worked, and what didn’t.

We slowly shifted from a group who was going to avoid tough conversations about feelings at all costs, to a group who was having these conversations and reflecting on their own contributions to the discussion.

We got into this rich, deep conversation about what it means to be brave, because the group kept coming back to how important courage is when having a tough conversation, and how hard it is to find it when you need it most.

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Answers to “what does it mean to be brave?” from 12 and 13 year olds.

In the end, we had some brave, honest conversations about the issues the group identified, practicing out specific skills and tools and standing in courage. We talked about what works, what doesn’t and how to keep flexing that muscle of talking about the things that matter instead of avoiding them, because they don’t go away when you hide from them.

My hope is that the lessons in those afternoons together will stick, and when a tough issue comes up, they will try to stand in courage and test out their new skills. My hope is that parents, family and friends of youth will choose to be in the conversation with them when they need to have them, so they build a practice and experience of it being OK to walk this path.

If you want to have a conversation with youth in your life, here are some of the questions I asked over those afternoons.

  • What are things that are hard to talk about?
  • How do you approach having a tough conversation?
  • What do you need from others when you are emotional or feeling stressed out about something?
  • How do you need to be in order to have a tough conversation? What do you need to draw on?
  • Who is someone you could have a tough conversation with? How would you reach out to them to get started?

Dying sucks.

This isn’t a profound blog about finding meaning and beauty in death. Because the process doesn’t always work out that way.

All living things die. But the dying isn’t always beautiful, peaceful or gentle. It can be a struggle for the dying and those trying to support them. It can be a fight for dignity, the right to choose, a struggle to make hard choices in difficult situations.

My mother-in-law died today.

I’m equal parts sad about the loss of her fierce spirit in our lives and relieved that she is no longer suffering.

A woman of formidable strength, independence, opinions and certainty, she made a choice about what she was prepared to live with — and ultimately what she was not prepared to live with. She brought that fierce independence and will to her final choices, choosing a difficult path to death.

We had countless family conversations about what to do, how to support her, how to challenge her choice or encourage a path towards life instead. Ultimately we chose as a family that the independent, fierce, tough woman she was is who we would honour and respect. While we encouraged life, we chose no invasive procedures that would prolong that life. It sounds like it should have been a peaceful, smooth process. But it wasn’t. It was bumpy, hard and challenging. Perhaps death is always like that? I know it’s not meant to be easy, like its portrayed in the movies. I wonder though if it could be smoother.

Along the journey to death, we encountered retirement residence staff ill prepared to support palliative care so she could stay in familiar surroundings. These same staff lectured us about how we needed to undertake invasive procedures in order to “give her a chance”. In my head, I would think that we would be giving her a chance at what? A life in circumstances where she wouldn’t want to live? A life that didn’t meet her definition of a quality life? Where this exceptionally proud woman experienced shame, humiliation and embarrasment on a daily basis? For me, the impact of the interaction with retirement residence staff was to leave me feeling like I had failed her for trying to honour her wishes.

She was transferred from familiar surroundings to the hopsital. There we met with doctors and nurses familiar with real palliative care, in the best interests of the patient. They made her as comfortable as possible with pain medications, sedatives, and kindness. A day and a half later she breathed her last. I’m grateful for the kindness and support of hospital staff, but I’m deeply saddened by the lack of dignity and respect provided to people who are dying along the way, or who choose that their time has gone.

My mother-in-law was a few weeks shy of 90. She had lived a full and beautiful life. She had a DNR (do not resuscitate) on file. She communicated her wishes, her views of what made a quality life, of the indignities she felt were acceptable, and those that were not. Over the last few months, as her cognitive abilities declined, many of her friends and care staff suggested our family needed to step in and “fix” the situation, and make choices about interventions on her behalf.

There is a line. A line where we respect another human being’s right to decide for themselves, and where we support them when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. I have learned this from my husband, who has gracefully and with deep compassion now supported both of his parents through the series of tough choices that end in death. Where he supported them to stop driving, choose living circumstances where they were supported to be independent as long as possible. He didn’t decide things based on how he wanted them to be, but on how he interpreted they would choose and what they would want. It’s been this beautiful dance of respect and dignity and he is a master at it.

There is this prevailing view I’ve been witness to that when people become elderly, their family members should step in and make decisions as if they are children. I feel deeply that when we step in to make decisions for others, we should be making those decisions based on who they are, and what they value, from a place where we hope to be channeling what we interpret would be their wish if they could decide for themselves. Not where we make choices based on what WE want for them, but what they would have wanted for themselves.

There is this tension in society that so many people say they don’t want to live in these painful, totally compromised situations when they are elderly. And yet when their family members become elderly, every measure is taken to keep them alive, regardless of the consequences. How do we reconcile that? How do we bring back dignity and respect for the dying to the forefront of decision-making?

We don’t want to talk about these things. So many of us put off these conversations, thinking that we will talk about them when we need to, or one day long in the future. I think that by the time we need to have these conversations it is often too late. Sure it might be uncomfortable, but so what? Living in pain, in circumstances you would never have wanted to be in is far, far worse.

Here is my advice to you.

  • Don’t leave it to your family to channel your values, hopes and wishes and second guess whether they got it right. A DNR is not enough to provide guidance n the day to day choices that lead to death.
  • Have the conversation with your family TODAY about what you want, and don’t want. Sit at your dinner table and talk about cognitive ability, physical impairment, and quality of life.
  • Write your wishes down. If you don’t know where to start go to Dying with Dignity and look around. They have some great resources, including advanced care directives.
  • Choose someone as your power of attorney who you really believe will respect YOUR wishes, values and needs rather than make decisions based on the wishes of others or out of their desire for you to stay around a little longer. Choose someone who will treat you as an adult, even when your cognitive ability declines, and who has deep respect for you.
  • If you decide to leave your home and live in a retirement residence, make your choice in a way that includes knowledge of their view, approach and ability to support you in your final days. Know how they can support you in your independent living days, but your last days too.
  • Make sure your medical team knows your choices, and is prepared to support them. If they don’t, pick a new medical team.
  • Recognize you can have a full and meaningful life even with physical and mental impairments that come from illness. Decline is a part of aging, and your family and friends will want you around as long as possible. You have much to contribute even if you are incontinent, need a cane or walker or your mental abilities decline. There is still much life to be lived, so don’t make your choices too restrictive.
  • In the end, life is so very short and over in a flash. One day you are 16, and then you are 50, and then 80. It goes by in a blink. Take care of your mental and physical health, life well and fully and don’t waste a moment of it. It’s deeply precious, and gone far too soon.
  • Make your choice carefully. Know that even if you make your choice to die, and the people who love you support that choice, you will be missed and there will be a hole in their lives where your spirit once was.

Redefining success: our new normal is outrage, opposition & polarization

A picture I took of a protestor (with his permission) who set up camp outside the B.C. legislature week after week to protest tax changes.

A picture I took of a protestor (with his permission) who set up camp outside the B.C. legislature week after week to protest tax changes.

It used to be that when we brought people together to talk about tough issues we had the idea we’d done it well if people were happy, agreed and thought our processes were good. Those days are long gone.

It used to be that we applied all our skills and knowledge to resolve conflict, eliminate outrage and earn people’s trust. Those are honourable but unrealistic goals.

It used to be that we thought conflict resolution could resolve conflict, interest based negotiation could result in durable solutions and that we could create processes with a goal of people agreeing to a way forward. The days when conflict resolution was effective are gone.

Conflict resolution is dead.

We live in a different time, where we need to redefine the new normal.

We need to stop creating processes where failure is defined as the presence of conflict or outrage and instead define success as the presence of emotion, concern, outrage and conflict and our ability to really hold the space for those brave, honest conversations that need to happen.

We need to recognize conflict, outrage and opposition will be present, welcome it in, and create conversations where we build capacity to talk together about tough issues and build alignment rather than agreement.

A new definition of success is working WITH the conflict, outrage and opposition people bring to a tough conversation and creating spaces where everyone recognizes we have some tough decisions to make together. Where we design processes that take everyone on the journey in recognizing there is more to conversations in our communities than just our own needs.

I gave a speech last week in Vancouver where I was asked “What is the future of public engagement? What do you think needs to change or adapt in the field?” It’s a BIG question, not easily answered, but here was my attempt at a response.

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It’s time we recognized outrage and opposition are here to stay. Social norms and expectations are vastly different today than they were five years ago, and people go right to protesting and saying no when a project is proposed that doesn’t align with their values or meet their needs. I have no problem with that; its the basis of democracy. However, it creates an environment where people tell you what they DON’T want, rather than what they DO want. Let’s bring in the concerns AND talk about solutions too. Let’s also start recognizing we don’t live alone in our communities and there are others who might think differently, and we need to consider those views too.

It’s time we stopped having all our conversations about tough issues on a project by project basis. Instead, let’s talk about the real values driving opposition and reaction to projects. Let me give you an example: imagine if we had a national conversation about the environment and the economy instead of a series of separate conversations about pipeline after pipeline. Imagine a conversation where indigenous communities, oil companies, environmentalists, government and regular Canadians came together to talk about HOW we really create a viable economy that leverages our natural resources, respects and recognizes indigenous rights and territory and protects and stewards the environment? Just imagine that conversation! I can envision that conversation would result in multiple solutions that met all those needs and included options like renewable energy sources, economic development possibilities and benefits for indigenous communities. Instead, we have these deeply polarized conversations one pipeline at a time, and people chain themselves to fences, threaten to wreak havoc on the economy or suggest legal action. How is that a way forward?

We need to drop the “public” in public engagement, and recognize we need to focus on how we create a way of talking together through brave, honest conversations every day — in our lives, organizations and communities. Some organizations do a great job talking to the public or stakeholders and have a dysfunctional internal culture where meaningful conversations are hard to have. Other organizations do the opposite. In the end we won’t find viable solutions unless we keep having hard conversations whenever and wherever they are needed, so we can move forward together.

We need to build real leadership for brave, honest conversations on really tough issues. We’ve solved all the easy challenges in our communities and we’re left with the really tough ones. Think climate change, poverty, intensification, reconciliation, environmental damage and more. We need leaders willing to take a stand for the CONVERSATION, without knowing the answers, solutions or outcomes that might result.

It’s time we changed the paradigm from indivdiual right to have a say, to reocgnize people have a right AND a responsibility to their neighbour. It’s time we all advocated for the collective good and stopped putting bandaid solutions on tough problems. I totally respect each person’s right to their view, perspective and need. I’m also tired of people who can’t see beyond their own needs. It’s time we understood we live in communities together, and it will take all of us to find our way forward.

Tell me what you don’t want and then also tell me what you DO want. Then tell me how those wants also meets the needs of your fellow neighbours. Bring your “no” to the conversation, and also your solution to the situation. Let’s ask more of each other, dig deeper, and try harder to really solve the challenges facing us.

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Let’s agree that vitriol, public shaming, marginalization and hate is just not a go. Let’s call it out as unequivocally not all right and be clear it is the behaviour we won’t tolerate, not the people who are upset we take issue with. An enormous number of people — including politicians — are removing themselves from social media because of the total disrespect that is generated in online conversations. It’s time we all stood up with brave hearts and said that it isn’t OK.

Lets take the inform and consult levels off the IAP2 spectrum once and for all. In 2015 I wrote a blog re-imagining this core tool of the engagement practice, and called for the removal of inform, and offered suggestions about removing consult as well — because they aren’t real, meaningful engagement. Let’s agree that in a world of outrage, opposition and polarization we need to meet people where they are at, and have real conversations in meaningful ways about the things that matter most. It’s time the tools of our practice reflected the world we live in.

Stand for something, and act like a courageous leader. This work is not for the faint of heart. Engagement in this environment is risky business. Let’s take a stand for courage, compassion and integrity and step forward and invite people into these conversations, ask more of them and create spaces where we talk together about tough stuff. Let’s recognize there are no easy solutions or magic wands to make things perfect, and recognize the hard work we are doing of building communities and creating capacity for brave, honest conversations. Let’s stand for that, and believe in our ability to really have these conversations together.