The trip to Belize in February seems a world away! Did it really happen? I have the photos to remind me, I have the thoughts and experiences to remember, but the world we live in today is very different to the world I left behind on January 31st.
I had an “ah ha” moment on that trip. While I was “conscious” in my decision to go to Belize (a country I’ve wanted to visit for many, many years and recommended by several more worldly traveling friends and colleague), the question for me became “why now?”
You might ask “where is she going with this?”
If you haven’t read Part 1 of this journey, I encourage you to pause and click here to lay the foundation of the next part of your journey here.
Shortly after the COVID-19 shutdown in mid-March and while the world was adjusting to this new norm of social distancing, the world exploded when police brutality led to the death of George Floyd. The level of aggression and attitude that appeared in those police actions were shocking for millions. The perceived disregard for human life based on, what appeared to be the color of skin, was horrific.
Sitting in my slice of Southern California where I had learned to carve out a life of social distancing, I watched the news unfold in horror. This was happening in my home state! This is where I knew and believed people to be relatively calm, accepting of others and friendly. This was NOT the state where I grew up and continue to visit the extensive family and friends who still live there to this day.
The cognitive dissonance I experienced threw me for a loop.
And, then the truth unfolded. I saw how deeply some people held strong views about people of different colors. I naively believed that we were so past this kind of divisive attitude. What happened to the United States - the United Shades - of America?
What became apparent is the notion of “land of the free and home of the brave” did not apply to all rightfully living in this country. Strong attitudes and bias were held towards people of different color – even those born in this country as well as those from other countries. This is not who and what I believed to be true about America. I found myself embarrassed and deeply troubled.
As I saw major companies and famous people step up and out in ways that our national leaders were not, I found new hope for a different and more inclusive world as we forward. I started to encourage having conversations at every level among employees and leaders about what the events from the Spring and Summer of 2020 and what it meant to them.
I started to develop new content for my training programs that addressed “unconscious bias” and how this can show up and influence our relationships with others.
Now, it’s part of every conversation I have.
What can you do, what can I do - to uncover “unconscious bias?”
Here are FIVE more steps to take in leveraging and opening up your mindset:
Step #1 Discover, uncover and explore the impact you have on others and don’t even know it!
Too often, I hear people say ”This is who I am. Deal with it.” This mindset reflects a “fixed” approach that promotes reactive, fear-based responses, often with negative influence and impact on others, interfering and obstructing our ability to be more productive and effective.
Step #2 Embrace (choose) traits that build reputations and maximize influence.
Be mindful of the language you use. The old diddy of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is one of the biggest myths passed down through the baby boomer generation and beyond. Words do hurt and create instant impressions on who we are and reflect our bias and attitude.
Learn to embrace a “growth” or agile mindset, i.e. “What can I learn from you and others?” It takes courage to be curious, yet that’s how we learn. Drawing upon the words of Stephen Covey, “Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.”
Step #3 Practice building trust in relationships.
“It takes time to build trust but only moments to dash it.” Avoid the missteps that erode trust. Without trust, we can’t and won’t move forward. Without trust, we won’t follow others and others won’t follow us. We won’t listen to others and others won’t listen to us. Instead, think about how you show up in ways that inspire, influence others and show our vulnerability that we don’t know it all.
Step #4 CHOOSE to live and lead with character by taking a look at your values and how you communicate them. Do you use words that intentionally (or unintentionally) hurt others and reflect bias towards others who may be different? Instead, develop awareness of how you show up and bring value to life through your words, your actions and your deeds.
Step #5 Know when and how to make a difference in how you show up with others.
Instead of being unconsciously biased, learn from others on how you come across. Take the 360-degree perspective and look at how you can expand the possibilities for improved relationships.
Move with intention and take steps to be conscious in your efforts by moving from unconscious incompetency to unconscious competency with growth, learning, and developing a new mindset that embraces human kind with compassion (or what the Dali Llama calls warm-heartedness.)
After all, who wants to be known as cold-hearted?