Welcome back! After giving you insight to my life with "I Am My Life (Part 1") a few weeks ago, it’s time to look at who I am today and who I hope to be tomorrow.
If you haven’t read Part 1, please click here and take a few minutes to get to know me. Reading about my past will put context to the following words and to the rest of my 2021 writings.
These blog entries could be titled, “I’m Complicated.” There is so much that makes me me (and you you). My Part 1 blog is just a small list of “inputs” to my life. There are so many more experiences that have shaped me:
Add everything up, and the result is a complicated person with much of my worldview set from an early age. I was born with a certain personality that has guided my entire life. I was blessed with two loving parents who nurtured and guided me until I became an adult. While I’m certainly not perfect and don’t always reflect my belief in God, my faith, which I’ve had for as long as I remember, guides my thinking and actions.
But here’s the key point: I’m open to change. I’m constantly growing, constantly learning, and constantly trying to be a better person. While I have two or three core beliefs that I won’t alter, everything else is open for discussion and subject to change.
The Right Kind of Uncomfortable
One of the true highlights for me in 2020 was a conversation I had with Elena Gerstmann.
The roots of our conversation — some would call it a debate — come from a tweet I made. Up to that comment, I had never tweeted (or blogged) about anything personal. Nothing about religion, politics, or my favorite Mexican restaurant.
But after reading one particular tweet regarding President Trump that elicited a number of harsh replies, I just couldn’t keep quiet. I didn’t defend President Trump but I did respectfully push back on all of the previous statements, making a point that the harshness of the comments simply did nothing to add to the political dialogue. I then blogged about that Tweet “conversation.”
Shortly after that blog, Dr. James Pogue asked if I would be interested in having The Right Kind of Uncomfortable conversation with Elena, someone who sees life much differently than I do.
James did a fantastic job of moderating our hour-long conversation. In the end, neither Elena nor I changed our position on any issues. We did, though, agree to talk more which we’ve done several times.
After watching the debate, my dad said, “Son, it was interesting but you didn’t solve anything.” I replied saying we weren’t really trying to solve a specific problem, rather we tried to model the ability to have a deep discussion between two people who see life differently. I think we were successful in that effort.
Thanks to Elena and James, a few D&I professionals and a few dear friends, I expanded my view of people in 2020. No, I didn’t change my conservative, Bible-based worldview. But I did grow in empathy for people, specifically black people and gay people. Through many discussions, I can better relate to the struggles some people face and have a better understanding of their worldview.
Most of all, I grew in commitment to helping people connect and helping people get along with each other. I’m committed to doing this on a small, one-to-one scale as well as a larger organizational scale, building workplaces where all people are welcome and feel included, heard, and safe.
So this will be the theme for the remainder of 2021 — how organizations can build high-performing workforces by connecting employees who are different. Different ethnicities, different political viewpoints, different ways of thinking, and different genders and generations.
Will you join me?
If we all commit to these actions, we can make 2021 a year that reverses course, turning away from the yelling, name-calling, incivility, and hurt we’ve seen grow the last several years and begin building better, stronger workplaces, communities, and, ultimately, a better world.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.