“Thank you, for saying what we white women in the room needed to hear…really, thank you.”

I spent that past weekend in Denver, Colorado with the group of Emerging Women that the fabulously fierce Chantal Pierrat pulled together for the fifth time…..and it was AMAZING!  I am so grateful to have been included again this year.  When someone trusts you with their platform, that is nothing short of a great compliment and a major responsibility, not to be taken lightly!  I had the honor of being on a panel, moderated by Chantal and serve as a coach for a few attendees during the coaching corner!  My heart is so full….can’t even begin to tell you!

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The panel, titled The Future of Business: Creating Cultures where Women (and Men!) Thrive, focused on a number of different priorities, primarily honing in on the role of corporations in the day-to-day lives of their employees.  As it relates to diversity and inclusion, we just got real about what underrepresented groups experience or don’t get to experience depending on an organization’s culture, as well as the additional taxes some of us, yes, especially minorities, have to manage and the extra work of carrying the mantel of diversity and inclusion, educating others, being and enhancing our own cultural dexterity as well as that of others.  One message I really tried to drive home is that we individually, “those who actually have power to change the culture must play our part, especially when we see minorities carrying the load of this on their own.”

See, here’s the thing, we’ve been moving into reemphasizing the women’s agenda which is absolutely, so unquestionably critical to the brighter future we are all so desperately in need of.  This is the catch though, we have to remember that within the group, within the broad demographic of women, we must acknowledge and remember that those of us who have been historically and continue to be underrepresented, your brown and black sisters especially, have yet to have our demographic prioritized.  Additionally, when we try to advocate for ourselves on our own without the broad demographic support….we’re not only bossy, we’re aggressive….we’re not only aggressive, we’re angry…we’re not only angry….and I could continue but ultimately we are then alienated, isolated, discounted further, isolated, and there continues the cycle of just even trying to be seen and heard let alone, get a seat at the table in order to lean in and hopefully be heard.

So what?  So, now it’s time to just agree that we are all light in this world and we need to stop focusing on how much our individual illumination may be diminished by this circumstance and that.  Focusing in on how we’re impacted individually and how we can individually come together, collectively, with our own individualistic agendas is actually more limiting than we realize or are willing to accept.  We must hone in on the truth that we actually must opt to put our lights together, creating a fire we can leverage to turn this world right-side up!!!  Then, no one has to wait for their turn, for their agenda, their priorities and concerns to be the priorities and concerns of the others because in the end, aren’t we all one?

To the woman who thanked me “for saying what we white women in the room needed to hear”, I so wish I got your name, but thank you (and I will always remember that gentle smile)!  Thank you for accepting my boldness even when you didn’t know that sometimes it’s really hard to push yourself beyond the invitation and just take a seat to raise your voice.  Thank you for not letting the discomfort of the truth position you to shrink back and just sit and reflect or just think about it.  Thank you for seeing me, for recognizing that you are me and I am you and we, we got this!

To all of us, this week, be bold enough to speak your truth.  Encourage someone else to speak their truth.  Push past your own discomfort. Welcome, embrace, let go of your flickering flame and contribute to the fire!  It’s rising time and there’s no luxury of any of us turning back now.  Let this be your march of the moment!

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Standing Out

I know it’s pretty tough but it looks like it is actually getting harder and harder for young girls to feel like it is absolutely ok to be different, to be unique to not follow the crowd, to be themselves, embracing authenticity.  I recently did another workshop for a group of thirteen- to fifteen-year-old girls  and they were absolutely fabulous!  I mean, they were on point with everything and just downright fierce!  The group of 17 showed up so confidently and they also showed up as one collective, supportive unit.  They had a great day together, laughing, playing, joking, encouraging each other and really absorbing all that there was to discuss and take in.

At the end of the day, I asked “so after today, what will be the biggest challenge for you in keeping your promise to yourself and each other to just be you, no matter what?”  One brave soul raised her hand and said,

“well, I like me…I love me…and I know I’m good, you know like I’m pretty cool.  But I’m different….I’m just really different….we’re all different from each other, and most of the people at school.  What’s hard is just being different because people notice you….and it can make you feel a little uncomfortable.”  

Then the entire group said, in unison,

“really uncomfortable.”  

Ugh, I just looked at all their beautiful faces and thought to myself, different group, different times, same bottom line challenge.  Being different is hard!  And we still have so much work to do in facilitating appreciation of differences.  I mean, I can’t think of one person who hasn’t looked through their Facebook feed even just over the past week alone and not realized that we, the adults, grown folks, even lose our minds when different perspectives arise.  How can we expect our young, up and coming women to operate any differently?

Dr. Seuss said it so simply

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”  

Great question but man oh man can it be hard sometimes….often times.  So what do we do about this? Action plan for the week:

    • Accept that it can be hard.  It just is.  Fact.  So accept that it is.  The moved into reflection, thinking about all the hard things that you’ve done in life, despite the fact that they were difficult.  What’s the gain?!?!?  LOTS!!!
    • Accept that though being different may be hard for you, it may be even harder for others, those who just don’t embrace your differences….and that’s really just not your problem…so keep it moving.  Imagine the loss to the world, your circle and those with whom you interact if you didn’t allow yourself to stand out?, prioritizing others’ comfort around you over your own unique value?  What a loss…..
    • Decide how you will stand out.  For some of us it’s our hair, our shape, our skin color, our personality, a whole slew of things.  Decide what your “stand out” factor(s) is/are and decide what you think of it before anyone else does and walk in it!  

 

  • Strut in it.  Slay in it!!!!  Stand out!