Creating Cultures of Belonging
What do you need to learn?
Yesterday we had our 1st cohort check-in meeting. Sharing how participants were using the tools of values alignment, questioning, self-awareness and mindfulness learned in Innerleadership.
Cheers to our amazing pilot group. So transparent, willing to practice and report, courageous, and supportive of each other! To prepare for the next workshop participants will bring their digital diversity picture. Unpacking what and why authenticity is a pre-requisite for valuing diversity, managing bias, practicing inclusion, owning the privilege one has, and allyship.
The public discussion following Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle's Oprah interview, again brings us into the conversation about race, allyship, colorism, and the impact of exclusion. Whether in Buckingham Palace, within a family, organization or community, exclusion is painful. Research shows, the more observable one's difference is, the more exclusion the person is prone to experience. Compassion, one of the skills for practicing inclusion, is seeing someone's sufferings and being moved to alleviate someone's suffering.
Learning to notice acts of exclusion, racism, colorism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, gender bias, ageism, and other isms starts with the self. We notice what we are aware of. Developing your awareness is a personal responsibility. Developing your ability to stop exclusion and address it takes education, practice and feedback.
One of our cohort attendees owns a company that designs fashionable clothes for people with disabilities. Abelism, and the construct of the world, our work, our play, and dress environments are for able bodied people. The barriers are real, exclusionary, and invisible to far too many.
I had no personal experience, until four years ago when my then 1 year old grandson had a double amputation above the knees. This experience motivated me to learn more about the barriers people with disabilities face. I had to educate myself and shift my mindset so that I did not become a barrier. I had to commit to continuous learning. In just our first class and check in, the learning from the CEO of unhiddenclothing.com has been eye-opening and invaluable. Thank you Victoria Jenkins!
Learning to be an inclusionary leader is a journey that ends when you die. There is always something to learn. A fixed mindset has no place in this work. The beauty, insight and personal development gained from doing this work is life changing. Becoming more intimate with other's experiences and ways of being makes us more human. Like Brazilian educator and philosopher, Paulo Freire said "no one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so."
The thread throughout the Creating Cultures of Belonging leadership development series is, start with self. Listen well. Stay curious, educate yourself, evaluate how you were educated, and practice conversations that interrupt bias and stop exclusion.
It has been said that the quality of your life is based on the quality of the questions you ask yourself. How willing are you to sharpen your innerleadership skills? Skills like self-awareness, mindfulness, skills that help you hold the mirror up to you? How willing are you to ask others what it is like to be on the other side of you? How willing are you to acknowledge that how you were educated was not neutral? How willing are you to examine, acknowledge and use your privilege for inclusion? How willing are you to do your part to Create Cultures of Belonging? How willing are you to bequeath your children a legacy that is antiracist, inclusive, and kind?
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