On November 15th, twenty-eight women from a variety of races, nations and religions gathered together for a Conversation Safari. The plan was to dive into divisive current events and the fears that drive our emotions, our behaviors and our results.
Our topic had been planned for months based on several private conversations:
- I’d had with a Muslim neighbor
- And several different conversations I’d had with ladies that will always have a better tan than I do
In each of those private conversations we shared fears, we felt each other’s pain, and considered new perspectives.
(The date of our event had been chosen because of some scheduling conflicts, not because of a master strategy. But when November 9th rolled around and the election results from the U.S. hit the airwaves – fear in across the world and in the expat sandbox grew. Our topic could not have been more perfectly timed.)
- One of the women I had met with during the summer shared what was happening at the University that her son attends in the U.S.
- Other neighbors were posting deep concern for their safety in the world
- While other friends in the U.S. were sharing deep concerns about racism and bigotry
Titled leaders and employees are happier and more successful when they learn how to have discussions that include deep listening and truth telling. A failure to do either one equals missed opportunities for learning and growth. (This is also true for family and community members.)
As a result, I’ve been encouraging listening, thinking, and dialogue with increasing frequency and leveraging current events as examples of how we can do this.
As you watch the news, are you ever so aware of the pain and the division in our world that it is hard to think about anything else?
Recently in my home country:
- A woman was set on fire because of her faith.
- Two other women were punched because of their faith.
- Bombs were set off and people were stabbed for their faith.
- A man was killed because of the color of his skin.
- Several men were killed because of the uniform they wear.
Some have responded with fear and hate for everyone that is not like them.
Others deny that any problem exists and encourage blind acceptance.
Do we really have only two options???
Our world needs people who can lead positive change!
It requires unshakable vision, grit and character. Recently I’ve been watching a story develop in the U.S. that is worth studying – Even if you don’t live there.
For those that aren’t aware of this story, this is a quick look at the facts:
Colin Kapernick is a professional football player that recently decided to exercise some of the freedom our country grants everyone.
He decided to stay seated during our national anthem, as the rest of the stadium stood and honored our flag and our country.
Colin says he is protesting because, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
His decision created a lot of heated debate with some people criticizing his patriotism, some people defending his right to protest and others applauding his reason for protesting.
It did not take long to discover that Colin chose to wear socks with pictures of pigs in police uniforms during practice, which caused more debate.
A short time later he met with a Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret Soldier and professional football player with his own passion for freeing the oppressed. Their conversation resulted in Colin’s decision to kneel; instead of sitting the next time the National Anthem was played.
Colin has also indicated that he will donate $1 Million to help those affected by police injustices.
Lessons for Change Leaders:
As many of you know, I’m living in a part of the world where many freedoms that I once took for granted – don’t exist. -Now don’t get me wrong I agreed to move here, to seek first to understand and to learn. So I’m not complaining. …But I absolutely must share what I’m learning.
Have you ever considered that…
- In countries where sharing research and opinions puts liberty and lives at risk – citizens are being taught that it is safer not to think
- In countries that allow freedom of speech, traditional journalists have done so much of the work for citizens – that we’ve allowed ourselves to become lazy thinkers
- Dialogue is a way for us to seek truth, gain new perspectives, build relationships, and solve problems
- Dialogue is also a freedom that many take for granted
When my husband said we were asked to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world my stomach churned so hard I had to sit down.
How was this possible? We said we would go ANYWHERE in the world except – THERE! Scenes from movies and the news melded with my own fears and questions were fired off so rapidly my husband could not reply.
A “yes” wasn’t possible if I could not change my thinking:
- From the losses to the possible gains.
- From the challenges to the possible opportunities.
- From fear to faith.