I recently met with a client who had completed the DiSC personality assessment for the first time. So naturally I asked, what insights or learnings have you applied since taking that assessment? The answer was surprising. She said, "Honestly, I've been so busy, I have not have much time to do anything differently." I was confused by this comment at first, and then realized why. The DiSC is a mental model. From my perspective, the most powerful piece of the DiSC model is that it helps one understand and appreciate differences. It's not about carving out the time to DO something, it's literally about thinking differently about others. Having more empathy, being more open to a new viewpoint, or, if you really want to go out on a ledge, actually agreeing to a different approach that you typically wouldn't support. After explaining this to the client, she replied, "So you're saying, it's not that I have to DO anything...I need to BE different."
That's it! Well, at least that's the first step and then, once your mindset changes, your behaviors shift, too. This concept of reflection and challenging your own assumptions (rather than focusing on immediate action) was also the message I walked away with after hosting a community discussion on Race and Racial Inequity.
It's a good rule to follow, in general: When you receive the gift of some big insight, sit with it for a minute.
Taking the First Step: Self-Reflection and Education
Three months have passed since George Floyd was murdered. Many people are thinking to themselves, what I have done to change my ways? How am I contributing to change or taking action?
I recently came together with a group of people who have these same questions. It was our intention to reflect, regroup, and move forward. Led by facilitators Dana Karp and Anita Hinton, this group was thoughtful and smart and motivated and had feelings of being both hopeless and hopeful.
We all listened to this interview with Brené Brown and Ibram Kendi, author of the 2019 bestseller How to Be an Antiracist, and then shared our responses to these reflection questions:
You'll notice that the questions were crafted around reflecting on one's own reactions, thoughts, and emotions. This was very intentional. The facilitators have learned that any movement or action must begin with self reflection and education. Once you do that, you will get clarity on actions to take.
It was a great model for a difficult discussion. We first broke into smaller groups where people felt free to be more vulnerable and then we engaged in a large group discussion with almost 50 people on the call.
The takeaways for everyone were unique, of course. I can only speak for myself. I commit to keep pushing myself into the uncomfortable conversations and continue to educate myself on the things I didn't even know I didn't know. Inspired by our discussion, I ordered the young adult book, Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi, and read it on our vacation last week in the hopes that I could pass this on to my High School and Middle School aged children. The authors jokingly repeated that, "This is NOT a history book" so the young adults would actually read it. But I assure you, this was the best history book I've ever read. So eye opening to the impact and intention of policies that I knew nothing about. This book helped me to see the systemic issues that were in place long before the U.S. was even established.
Diversity Resources to Check Out
The other powerful outcome that resulted from this group was a list of resources generated by this group. Click on this link to access the list of suggestions ranging from podcasts to books to movies all in service of educating ourselves further. And, if you have other recommendations to add to the list, let me know... I'm continuing to add to it and will keep the list updated.