Choose Depth

Today, I was reading a piece by a conservative political blogger who concluded that a candidate’s age combined with a non-threatening biological issue were good reasons for exclusion from the political process. No point of issues or integrity were made, simply the candidates rumored lack of bowel control.

A few minutes before, as I was working on my résumé, from which I had previously removed my home address because, at this point in time, it serves no functional purpose on a résumé (as it did in decades past). Actually, I am wrong. It does serve a function – It makes the reader comfortable with the fact that I do not live in abstract poverty, a shelter or under a bridge (which speaks to the point that we are more afraid of homelessness and poverty than of a megalomaniac running the USA but that is another topic for another day).

Now, whether running for office while supposedly wearing adult diapers or failing to put a place of residency on a résumé, my point is as follows: How many highly qualified individuals does our society toss by the wayside because they don’t live up to our superficial expectations of what success is? Because their body doesn’t function normally (but not in a way that will prevent them from performing exceptionally)? Because they don’t want you to Google the fact that they live in the “hood” (or wherever they live because it is inconsequential)? I vividly recall sitting on a university’s panel with an HR professional who said she Googles the addresses of job candidates because, if they cannot keep a home that looks respectable on the outside, chances are they cannot run a department. What message does this send to the first generation college student whose address on his résumé doesn’t reflect the wealth that he knows some of his peers’ do?

Whose standards of success are we, as Americans, subscribing to? Such schools of thought perpetuate the fallacy that you must look and live in accordance within a predetermined set of norms that were established by men and women who look nothing like me and whose culture worked violently to eradicate mine. So, in order to get ahead, I should make sure my body looks, functions, and operates like theirs? To succeed, my home, yard, and family should be mirror images of theirs?

There are some cultural concessions I choose to make for the sake of my family. Other things, I am working to actively unlearn and reprogram. I don’t want my spirit to model that of murderers, slavers, and rapists like America’s forefathers, no matter how much of an impact they had on the world. I am content with the peace that comes from knowing that my ancestors equipped me with the emotional, physical, and cultural fortitude to be myself and to offer depth over shallowness.

How about, at this moment in history, we begin to look past the superficial in order to find the substance? I am certain that it will take more time but, in the end, it will be worth it.

 

Make choosing depth a priority.

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Taking a Loss

Yesterday, a divided nation decided that it would, in part, continue to go down a path that leads toward its demise. But, just because you’re going down the wrong path doesn’t mean you can’t pause, reflect, and commit to bettering yourself.

It’s time for us to demand more of our leaders. As I continue to prepare myself for elevated levels of leadership by taking on more roles and remaining a lifelong learner, I am adding more best practices to my arsenal. Today, as I was reading some of John Maxwell’s work, I was reminded that “(l)eaders lose the right to be selfish.”

We have to start holding our leaders, elected and otherwise, to a higher standard. Sometimes that means turning down campaign dollars from sources that lack integrity. Other times, it means foregoing a raise or rejecting a bonus so your support staff maintains its morale. Paying bills and engaging in self-care are not selfish. Shoot, even getting a bonus when everyone’s doing well is ok. But when, as a leader, you look out for yourself at the expense of those around you, you’re doing damage to the culture and community you’re suppose to be protecting.

Think of it like this: As a leader, if you do something selfish and stupid that jeopardizes your community’s reputation, you’re not only risking your job but also the jobs of everyone that supports you. Let’s look at all the companies that have gone down the drain because of poor leadership. The leaders were not the only ones affected. Their employees weren’t only affected. The employees’ families were affected. The generations that follow that employee are affected. Our decisions, as leaders, will have everlasting impacts on the world.

Yesterday’s election results, though some positive change took place, disappointed me on a large scale. The battle may be a wash but the war is far from over. Over the next two years (and long after that), let us, as follower-leaders, pledge to change the culture across political, economic, and social arenas. We have to get to a point where we can disagree without being mean-spirited and that starts with requiring our leaders to model that. We influence them by demanding more of them so that they can influence us. It’s a simple cycle.

 

Make selfless leadership a requirement.

Smart Starts Young: How Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Prepares Young Women To Thrive

by Susan McPherson
This week, UN Women and SAP hosted a forum focused on the advancement of women and girls in the innovation, technology and entrepreneurship fields. Promoting gender equality in these industries requires multiple approaches, from passing equal pay legislation to changing corporate culture to increasing the visibility of female role models. Meredith Walker, the co-founder of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and a speaker at the forum, suggests another approach: building confidence early on. Through Smart Girls’ digital content and programming, Meredith and her team help young women cultivate their authentic selves and develop their unique voices. In doing so, Smart Girls lays the groundwork for these young women’s continued success – in the workplace and beyond.

“Amy (Poehler) and I talked a lot about our pre-teen and teen years and remembered how good it felt when someone wanted to hear what we had to say. When someone let us be our goofy selves,” said Walker, when asked about the inspiration behind Smart Girls. “Being yourself is a challenge because the world seems to always have other ideas about who you should be. Learning to be yourself takes time, effort and determination. It comes only after asking yourself who you are and what is you, honestly you.”

A big focus for Smart Girls right now is giving girls a place to voice their opinions, thoughts and concerns — but also emphasizing the importance of having opinions that are based on fact. Not only does this lead to more constructive dialogue, but it also teaches young women how to be effective advocates for the issues they care about. According to Walker: “Gender equality is critical because it is about being valued as a human being. It is about the dignity of every person. If we are not of equal dignity and value in one place, then we may also be devalued and dismissed in others as well. If you want to be an advocate, you have to know what you are talking about. We live in a time when actual facts are (in some quarters) considered suspect. Yet, facts are vital for informed decisions and an informed electorate. It is worthwhile to realize the limitations of our own views and to become better informed every chance we get.”

Check out the rest of the Forbes article by clicking here.

 

Make gender equality a priority.

The Strength to Embrace Change

I look at some of the women in my circle and I am always astonished at their success. My awe lies not in the fact that they are women who achieve but in the fact that they keep pushing against a system that paints them as weaker human beings. Still, they go against the grain, work harder than their male counterparts (often for less), and they do all of this for what? To spur change. To secure their professional futures. To allow young ladies of the future to be moguls of entrepreneurship and industry.

So, ladies, today, I take my hats off to you. Yes, you are mothers, wives, caretakers, homemakers, and everything sweet that the world needs. You are all that and so much more. You are engineers, mechanics, doctors, scientists, artists, athletes, owners, traders, investors. You can do it all but you shouldn’t have to do it all. It is our responsibility as your male allies to stand alongside you and help women, all women, even out the playing field.

Make women not having to work harder than men a priority.

On the Front Lines

While we men are good at taking credit for doing everything, it is women who are actually great at getting everything done.

When we fall short on the bills, they find creative ways to fill in the gaps. When kids’ clothes are tearing at the seams, they mend them until we can afford to get new ones. When the fridge looks sparse, they reach into the cabinet and whip up a masterpiece that could be served at the finest restaurant.

But their creativity doesn’t start and stop in a domestic capacity. Women are leaders in politics, industry, entertainment, the arts, media, and education. So for society to fail to recognize (and pay) them as such is a slap in the face.

Just because that’s how it’s always been doesn’t mean that’s how it always has to be. Let this #WorkingWomanWednesday be the one that makes you appreciate those you work alongside even more, regardless of gender. I want my little niece to see a more fair world than my wife does.

Make influencing change a priority.

Why Black Women’s Equal Pay Day Is Ridiculous

I was coming back from vacation on Monday and, all over my Instagram and Twitter feeds, I saw a trending topic as ridiculous as #BlackLivesMatter: #BlackWomensEqualPayDay.

WAIT!!!! Don’t unfollow my blog! Here’s why hashtags like the aforementioned, though serious, are dumb.

In 2017, we all realize that we have implicit biases. It’s human nature. As sophisticated as we claim to be, most of us can be very simple-minded. But, when making a decision, especially one as important as hiring and pay grades, a human resources professional and manager should be asking “What would I pay this person if she didn’t look the way that she does? Or if her name wasn’t what it is? Am I, at first glance, being unfair? What if, instead of a 5’6″ black woman named Tomeka Jones, her name was Robert Bush or William Carter and she was a 6’0″ white man? What would I pay her?”. Statistics show that she would be paid 33¢ more per dollar were that the case. And, what if she were brunette-haired white woman named Jane Spellings? She’d still be getting 13¢ more than Tomeka (still unfair to Jane because Rob and Will are still 20¢ in the lead).

It cannot be reasonably disputed that an inability to be objective reinforces a perpetual system of inequality that prevents Americans of all backgrounds from being able to attain the same quality of life. Can Tomeka get to where Rob is in life? Certainly. Just look at Maxine Waters, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sheila Johnson, and Janice Bryant Howroyd. But the stress that she must put herself under to do so will likely shorten her lifespan and that is not right.

So, as I said at the onset, this hashtag is dumb. We should be beyond having to say black lives matter or that black women should be paid equally. How does that sound? Why can’t we adults actually live the ideals that we teach our children? We won’t be able to overcome this injustice in the workplace until enforceable legislation is put in place to protect everyone’s pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, not just white men’s.

It’s really a shame that we have to be told to be good people to one another.

 

Make equality for all humans a priority.