We are in interesting times… Times where we often hear or believe that people have become too sensitive, taking offense to “every little thing”; Times where we often hear or believe that it’s good that we’re finally becoming more sensitive, recognizing the damage of perpetuating and propagating stereotypes and reinforcing “norms”.
If your Facebook feed looks anything like mine, there are many conversations happening about racial injustice, gender inequality, the nature of true freedom, the dance of speaking boldly while listening deeply, what kind of changes we want to see in our world, and of course…politics.
These conversations can take on a polarizing nature, calling forth people’s shame, conscious and unconscious biases, fear, anger, pain, and passion.
These conversations can spark division, and yet something is rising in the collective and it seems these conversations need to happen. Furthermore, they are happening.
In the face of this polarization, it can feel scary to voice our perspectives on any topic:
…what if someone challenges us and we don’t know what to say?
…what if we lose rapport because people don’t agree?
…what if we offend people, unintentionally?
…what if we’re judged for being shallow, insincere, insensitive, or inarticulate?
…what if our perspectives are actually contributing to the problem?
We may even find it difficult to share our beliefs because they’re shifting by the day, dissolving again and again into the chrysalis of uncertainty.
So, how do we take a clear stand?
As we navigate these times, it’s critical that we continue to voice our inspired ideas and deepest truths, while being open to shifting our perspectives, and willing to articulate those changes in perspective.
- Shutting down and tuning-out when confronted by shame, confusion, or resistance remove our important voices from important conversations (and yes, even our questions are a valuable contribution).
- Ignoring the aspects of our work or messaging that feel misaligned stunts (even harms) individual growth or collective progress.
- Shutting out the perspectives of others that don’t match ours limits our ability to understand, empathize, and ultimately come together (and often signals a deeper fragility or rigidity within ourselves).
- Avoiding or shutting down pain and anger within ourselves and others is antithetical to leading with love and compassion, and prevents us from healing.
- Being willing to shift our [often deeply held] perspectives, even if it means facing periods of painful uncertainty, is a sign of true leadership.
- Acknowledging our changes in perspective and apologizing for ways we may have caused harm does not translate to “being hard on ourselves” or “revealing weakness”.
Leadership isn’t about knowing everything or always hitting the mark. On the contrary, it’s about standing for something we care about, and allowing the journey of taking that stand to shape us.
We shape and reshape our views.
Leadership requires courage, curiosity, humility, receptivity, and a commitment to true, deep alignment.
In light of my commitment to leading with these values…
…To the woman I was in dialogue with on Facebook years ago, who felt excluded by my definition and use of the word “feminine”…
…To my friend whose husband emailed me and asked, “But what about mothers? How can they achieve mental clarity without space in their mornings?”…
…To any trans women who have felt excluded by my invitations into sisterhood, because of any ways it may have appeared that my work only welcomes cis women…
I’m sorry for any & all the ways that I’ve ever been insensitive.
I’m sorry for not including you, clearly, explicitly.
You are welcome here, always.
Thank you for being my teachers.
––> In the comments below, I’d love to hear how these times are impacting your voice and self-expression. Are you finding it challenging? Inspiring? We’d love to hear from you…
I’ve often had to take a hard look in the mirror when feeling frustrated by female coaches / authors / blogsters without children who offer insights and expertise about femininity, leadership, etc that frankly don’t apply to single mothers, and many (if not most or all) partnered mothers. I enjoy watching such coaches go through profound transformations when they have their own children. Part of the quickness to jump to defensiveness, though, boils down to jealousy & grieving about the freedom losses that come with motherhood. It’s a good look-in-the-mirror activity.
Hi Nisha! This is very relevant right now; in fact, I was in a conversation about it yesterday (and every day of late, it seems). I teach at a natural health college and it draws up a lot of strong opinions, opposing standpoints, and leads to polarization. One particular issue right now, involves people who are strongly FIGHTING for gender labels to be removed. There is a lot of anger in this. I don’t disagree with the movement at all, but I find the anger is too quick to be directed at those who are not in opposition. People are walking around waiting to be offended. In the end, they may provoke a few thoughts, upset a few people, inspire a few people, but they are the ones living with this anger inside of them, suffering for it. I fear they become separated even more.
I think john powell said it best right before a dialogue began, ” I want to acknowledge that nothing is perfect and even if it was perfect, it would be someone’s idea of perfect. Giving space for things not to be perfect. Someone will say something that will be misunderstood and someone will say something they should have not said. We are not giving people a hall pass but holding space to connectiveness even in those spaces where we’re not perfect.”
Nisha, you are such a fabulous, gorgeous human being not for what you do only but for who you are! I don’t know you in person but when I read your words is as if I really know you!
Thank you for your honesty, it is like a refreshing, deep breath and that in itself brings tremendous courage and equality lightness to me.
I usually receive a few emails from sources I like listening/reading from but I many times reject some of them for whatever reason, but when I see yours I really take the time to read them because I know it brings a truth I am open to hear and receive.
Thank you sister. May you receive much love from this corner of the world ?.
I came to your site through your testimonial on Elayne´s website and I stayed in yours for a while. I am very impressed by the integrity it exudes, I love your stand on free women will free the world, and I trully love how your open heart, makes mine feel. Many blessings!