From a Podcast – Lamorne Morris
A noticeable shift from the first few episodes. While I enjoyed each of the original, and they certainly still stand out as unique from other podcasts, there was still something that was noticeably different. And Chad actually spoke to it in his “post” intro to the session. He was giddy (his words). And as he launched the session with Julie and Lamorne he announced this was going to be a “black” show. And it did feel different. It felt like we were getting to see a new side of Chad that he had not either given himself permission to be yet with us or didn’t feel safe or I don’t know. Would be really curious whether he thought this was a bold move for him or the show. And if so, what will serve to give him the permission or courage or whatever to keep being bold. I loved it.
What was interesting learning for me is how I never felt Chad was not being authentic in all of the previous Quitters podcasts. That is what I understand he has quit – no longer being inauthentic particularly to make others comfortable. But what felt different here is that he took up more space and it felt like he was having a bit more fun. More relaxed. More at ease. The distinction between being in-authentic vs playing small – these are not the same thing. I can be authentic and not as bold as I maybe I would aspire to be. I can be bold and be very in-authentic.
It was a good recognizing this distinction for me in my coaching of others who are trying to live more authentically. To remind them also of this distinction. I think many people feel pressure to be their authentic selves and that this has to also mean being bold and taking up more space. I want my clients to absolutely to feel they are able to be their authentic selves. And when they are ready, which does not mean no longer scared, take up as much space being that authentic self as they can.
From a Book/Article – Leadership Development in the Hybrid Era
All takeaways are super important and should become the standard to any learning. Looking at what they did here on an 11-week journey, and knowing the quarterly corporate cycle, it seems like another paradigm shift for the learning organization is to also become integrated into the business teams and you see a learning focus/stream for each quarter. Right now I see learning is measured as this separate thing that happens (e.g., how many of the employees have taken x class). With the hybrid world can we let go of the need to track learning by # of people through a class and instead by actual learning that occurs (i.e. applied on the job)
Here is specifically what I learned from this article that will help raise my game…
Weeks 1-4 – faculty-led sense-making learning. These were a mix of pre-recorded one-way lectures but coupled with sense-making discussions in groups of 20-25 with facilitators and then later with the faculty themselves in more of a roundtable format. What I think is brilliant about this strategy is that I have definitely experienced in learning programs before where we assign a bunch of pre-work, knowing that most likely they will not get to the pre-work and so we are always trying to catch people up (or leave them behind) when they arrive at the already jam-packed classroom experience. By adding these sense-making discussion groups with facilitators and experts you create connecting experiences which we know is a basic human need. You can also create a FOMO experience depending on how energizing these sense-making discussions are. Overall this increases the likelihood that individuals will come into the classroom with a solid understanding of the concepts and most likely have worked through conceptually any challenges they have with them.
Weeks 5-8 were experimentation – participants were challenged to take something they learned and apply it in real-world situations. This is very similar to learning experiences I have personally experienced in probably the best leadership development program I was ever in. And I know it/was a key part of Seth Godin’s MBA program where he claimed to have significant success with participation/completion rates. What was not explicitly mentioned in the article, but was true for both my experience and in Seth’s program was the structure of small groups in this stage. The idea is that I might not follow through on an “extracurricular” action if I’m the only one that suffers if I don’t do it. But if I have a team that is also counting on me then I’m more motivated to follow through with it.
Weeks 9-11 participants met with a coach to complete the self-discovery. This was done in small group coaching (3-5) which greatly reduces the cost of coaching while at the same time still creating opportunities for deeper learning. What is not mentioned is this also continues to build accountability on the participants to integrate the learning into their mindset and behaviours. I would argue that 3 weeks is not quite enough to sustain change but it is a great start. I would make sure that the group continues to have some accountability and support structures with each other after the end of the coaching – just no longer with the coach.
What is key in all of this, IMO, is that the business adopts this as a strategic approach to learning and integrates it into the work activities. That this doesn’t become another thing employees have to do on top of their normal work day. Of course, it will not be that black and white. But we have to set the intention and be asking how we make space for these two things – getting work done and learning – to not just co-exist but complement each other.
Here was a key image from the article that summarizes the framework which might make the above a bit more consumable.
From Social Media – We have a long way to go
I happened to catch on Tik-Tok a clip from a Minot City Council Meeting, a small town in Nevada. I should point out right away this is a clip from September 2020. Carrie Evans was speaking as the elected official advocating for the rights of LGTBQ+ people to have a flag representing that community fly at city hall. Many people had come into this venue to complain about the said flag. I assume the clip was re-circulating on Tik-Tok in the celebration of Pride month. I went searching for a more complete recording of this video to get a better sense of what she was reacting to. Note there are shorter versions of the full-length one. I don’t think anything significant was removed that changes the context of the story but it is interesting to watch the entire video to really appreciate the experience of this meeting.
What I took from this was just how far we still have to go in coming to a place of common ground. The opinions being expressed were shocking for me to hear. Granted I live in a very different part of the world, Vancouver Canada, where Pride Month is truly celebrated and I have been exposed to this mindset for quite a long time. I know it is not all roses here and that many hate crimes and bigotry still occur for those in the LGTBQ+ community here as well. And for all I know the %age of people in Minnot that are supportive of LGTBQ+ versus against is equal to what we have in Vancouver. We are just so much bigger it is easy for me to live in my circle of similar mindsets and not be exposed to such strong polarization. I also wonder, how shocked the 18-year-old version of myself would have been to these viewpoints, whose formative years were in a community probably not that different from Minnot in many ways. I have not lived in a “small town” since 1989 and have not lived in America since 1998.
The video also had me pause to consider what exactly the Bible says about LGTBQ+. As it was referred to in a few of the protester statements and America is still aligned significantly with the religion of Christianity I went exploring. While I was raised, by my Grandparents, as a methodist; and was baptized 3 times as a child and sat through many many Sunday sermons and bible school weeks – I never once recalled ever hearing anyone speak of scripture that pointed to this teaching much less talked about the condemnation of these things. Granted I was young and probably not a-tuned as I would be today if it was vaguely referenced. I no longer consider myself a Christian or affiliate with any organized religion even though I do consider myself very spiritual.
I found a few sources from a quick search on Google, many of which seemed clearly biased and unwilling to consider alternative points of view. I found one site that I felt did a decent job pointing to specific references to the bible and in a non-judgemental way sharing the contrasting perspectives. The site ultimately supports the view of the Christian God’s unconditional love for LGBTQ+ people. But as the authors of the site noted, they had at one time thought differently and did not come to this new viewpoint casually. Hence I appreciated their thoughtfulness in laying out at least two alternate perspectives.
It is important to point out that the “issue” being discussed was the flying of the LGTBQ+ flag at a government location however it was clear in the citizen protests their views on the LGTBQ+ community. But because of the references to the inappropriateness of the LGTBQ+ flag with the American flag, I went searching (again friendly Google) and found several sites that offered guidelines and pointed me to codes on the flying of the US flag as well as when you fly other flags, of any kind, with it. Most of these were referring to other countries or state flags to be fair but there were clear guidelines on flying another flag either beside or on the same pole. So the legal code seemed to not restrict it. However, as many of you might already know, prior administrations had banned the flying of the LGTBQ+ flag at US Embassies but just last year Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave blanket authority to allow it. The Pentagon remains firm on the ban against the display or depiction of unofficial flags.
Regardless, I think it’s great that there is an open forum where anyone, who has the spare time and means to get there, can go and share their POV on the appropriateness of flying any flag and what that means. However, I felt pretty empathetic to Carrie Evans and the entire council for the challenge of having to navigate this conversation. If I had been present there were a couple of questions that I was genuinely interested in having a dialogue with those of a counter POV as I found these points quite puzzling in my research:
Question 1 – The bible references many things that are “sins” that most Christians regularly commit today, many of which they have always regularly committed and seem to not phase them in the slightest as something that is “wrong”. My favourite is that you should only have sex for the sake of procreation. This means only vaginal sex (sidenote – this is not the most common way that females have orgasms for anyone that cares). Why is it so easy to ignore these other condemnations? It feels like there is so much energy being put into something that is clearly an interpretation. And choosing the version of the interpretation that creates so much harm to others feels dangerous. I’m sure fear is rooted somewhere in this answer but I honestly struggle to understand what that fear is. Particularly when society seems to easily accept, if not embrace, sexually suggestive media via magazines, commercials, TV Shows, Movies, etc to be readily available in our culture – consumable by all ages whether we like it or not.
Question 2 – The First Amendment to the United States Constitution clearly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” which as I understand it is the foundation of the principal separation of state and religion. Therefore the argument that the lifestyle of the LGTBQ+ is a “sin” in any political forum seems like a non-starter.
I know I am being a bit naive here but there is a genuine curiosity to these questions which probably requires a better understanding of human behaviour and the brain along with a deeper understanding of the personas most invested in this conversation. We are not going to find common ground until we first fully understand the perspective of all sides. To build a bridge to connect two sides you need to know the ground you are building upon and understand the material that is going to work to create a long-lasting stable connection. I definitely have more work to do here to build bridges on these topics. But we also need spaces where groups can come together to have these uncomfortable conversations so we can start to understand each other’s perspectives.
From Others – We are all Innocent
I love live music. My husband knows I love live music. And because he is such an awesome husband (and maybe because he loves it as much as I do) he regularly gets us tickets to concerts. This past Thursday we went to see Our Lady Peace a fairly well-known Canadian band.
It’s been over twenty years since I first saw OLP which also happened to be the first time I had ever heard of them. At the time I was still living in Charlotte, NC and working with a few Canadian consultants. My friends had heard OLP was in town playing at a ridiculously small venue. I joined them for the aforementioned reason. On our way into the venue, we passed the back door entrance and a few band members were outside having a smoke. I wouldn’t have known them from anywhere but one friend did and pointed them out to me. I immediately walked over and struck up a conversation (that is just how I roll). I managed to secure an autograph for my boyfriend (now husband) who couldn’t be there with us that night. That autograph is somewhere in this house but we have no idea where.
Fast forward a few decades and we are all much older. Instead of standing in a very smokey bar, I am sitting in a center of performance arts where alcohol is not even allowed inside. The performance also includes multiple holographic experiences with several musicians, including the famous futurist, Ray Kurzweil, (who was a key inspiration for their album Spiritual Machines) and Molly, a more advanced AI created by Ray who he has conversations with between songs on his future predictions such as global universal income, fixing climate change and Singularity. I also received my first NFT as part of the concert experience by joining through the app Drops – it was the playbill for the concert itself.
Overall this was an amazing experience. Not only the drastic difference from the first time I experienced OLP but just as compared to the last concert I went to a month or so ago where I eagerly jumped into the center of the room (again – how I roll) and started bopping up and down with all the college students and having beer spilt all over me from that guy who doesn’t know when to stop. Don’t get me wrong, there was still beer spillage that night. And certainly many persons there who “don’t know when to stop”. Lots of great music. Sing-alongs. Bass vibrating through your body. And then there were moments of amazement and wonder; skepticism and curiosity; and a bit of inspiration in seeing this rock band, have a bold idea to integrate music with philosophy and science right on stage. I would be very curious to know how it was received by the entire audience. I personally loved it all.
For those that know the OLP song Innocent it is definitely my favourite. Full of sorrow yet upbeat. Feels like me on many days. I love the paradox of these two things co-existing. Life at its best.
I am learning that I have a very strong protective streak and when it comes out I can get quite self-righteous. Most recently this has come up with family and friends (separate occasions) and in both cases, I felt a need to protect minority groups. In one case (family) I have not taken the chance to discuss the “issue” with them but leaned into other family members and friends to sort through my thoughts. And through that conversation, I realized that what was most important to me was to be the bridge between the two groups. Those who are doing the oppressing and those being oppressed. This was an important insight into the kind of ally that I want to be and shaped some of my earlier thoughts above from the social media post.
Before I could have that family conversation another event happened in a casual social gathering where again I felt this super strong need to protect those who were not present and who I felt were being judged unfairly. And this cost me in that conversation as I was not being curious about where their fears or confusion were coming from. I didn’t get to ask those questions because I jumped too quickly into redirecting their thinking.
I would like to think I did it with some compassion and not trying to make them “feel wrong” but I’m worried I may have failed at that as well. These are all people that I love and care for as friends and want in my life. And at the same time, in those moments, my allegiances are very much somewhere else.
What I’m missing out on is that I do get the advantage of being in these conversations when so many others would not. I was lucky enough that they were all willing to ask a question in the first place. That they felt the space was safe enough to ask the question. Some might suggest that they thought this was going to be a chance to just vent and have others collude with them. But I know these friends know me well enough to know that I would not be colluding. I’m 100% certain they expected me to challenge them.
So I created a safe enough space to ask questions that many people will never ask. Particularly in a work environment or in gatherings where you expect to be challenged. However, I fear I failed miserably in materially shifting any perspectives. And I think new perspectives are needed in order to build the bridge but maybe that should not be the first milestone as much as just exposure to new perspectives – on all sides.
Here is what I could have done – along with just asking some basic curiosity questions. I could have leveraged what I know about each of those people and considered what about them is a potential “shared” experience that evoked the emotions of being treated less than, not belonging, etc. I put “shared” in quotes because unless you are that minority group you cannot really have their lived experiences. I have no idea what it is like to be confused about my gender or to be black. But I do know what it is like to feel like an outsider. To feel like the world is against me. To feel less than. To feel discriminated against. To fear others who have power over me. To feel lonely. I know these feelings. And I imagine every human knows these feelings. What evoked them will be as different as there are humans on this planet. But the feeling is still a shared feeling.
What I still need to uncover for myself is the trigger to want to protect over connect. As long as I have that trigger and I do not learn to self-manage it then I will miss opportunities to build bridges.