• Stephanie Chavara

Not In This Alone

After I finish speaking at conferences, I am usually approached by someone who says to me, “this all sounds great, but I don’t have the time to tell stories or to listen like this. I want to, and I’ll start for awhile but then I usually just get swept up in all the stuff that needs to be done.”

There are so many articles and keynote speeches about the brave work so-and-so did to become a visionary in their field. Many of us want to be that visionary, but the deadlines don’t seem to go away long enough to get started on something larger. And, yes, we’d all like to be those positive change-makers who are able to be beautifully thoughtful in everything they do, but the days are short and often it’s easier just to put our heads down and bulldoze through the work.

I tell people to try again, and to make sure that they are not attempting a change by themselves. It’s a great first step into shifting your style: being bold enough to admit you would like to change something and then to be vulnerable enough to ask for help, and not just on a project, or something that “needs to get done”, but on a larger idea.

To acknowledge that you want to create something bigger into the world, and then to invite someone along on the journey, a possible witness to your failure: that can be a scary thing. That’s true bravery, and I encourage you to practice it, even on a small level. Whether it’s instituting a shift from plastic forks to real utensils as an environmental initiative for the office kitchen or introducing the idea of starting a meeting with prefered pronouns or interviewing your colleagues; ask someone to join you. They might say no. They might say you are foolish, that that’s not how this organization operates, but as Brene Brown says in Daring Greatly, “The willingness to show up changes us, it makes us a little braver each time.” Getting stuck in the way things have been done or by a to-do list will limit your ability to innovate. Think large, try something new, ask for help. It may be difficult to maintain, you may end up with plastic forks for a month; that’s alright. Show up the next day with change on your mind, ask for a little more help and try again.

In this way we can begin a dialogue with one another about what’s truly important and be a little less alone in moving forward.

originally published, Vela Facilitating 2.05.18

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