Share, Listen, Risk

As a not-for-profit organization, we are always working towards our vision. One way we go about and encourage this work is by making, and asking others to make, time and space for conversations that matter.

Conversations that matter. Sounds manageable, maybe even easy to some people. Regardless of how comfortable you may be, engaging in these conversations asks a lot from us.

To be fully present and engaged involves sharing our ideas and emotions and opinions and values. It insists that we listen to others’ ideas and emotions and opinions and values. It requires curiosity over judgment. It takes being open to the experiences of others. It asks us to hear another person’s truth.

Sharing and listening asks us to be vulnerable, and this can feel risky. Being vulnerable can, in fact, be a real-life risk.

Currently our country and communities and many of our colleagues and friends are engaged in conversations around race and privilege. These are not easy conversations.

We hope the links below can provide information, serve as a resource, or get a conversation started.

How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them
Vernā Myers

The 8 R’s of Talking About Race: How to Have Meaningful Conversations

White Folks Talking to Other White Folks About Why #BlackLivesMatter
Showing Up for Racial Justice SURJ Richmond

Have other resources to share? Post them in the comments section.

The Institute: Putting it Into Words

“You just have to experience it for yourself!”

“I can’t explain it…but it was awesome!”

“I had this awesome family and created this vision and I was a circle and we sang ‘Baby Shark’ and I’m so tired but it was so good.”

Sometimes articulating what you experienced at the Institute can be difficult. It’s six days packed with people and activities and ideas and discoveries. There is a lot to capture when talking about it all!LS-Institute-color_on.whiteThe Institute is an experience worth talking about and we want everyone who participated in the program to be able to share it with others. To be able to reflect on and explain and get others invested in the value of the program is meaningful and helps to keep the experience alive.

Because we know the Institute is both impactful and difficult to put into words, we have a few suggestions that we think are helpful.

You had the opportunity to spend time in reflection throughout the Institute, and doing so after the program has come to an end provides a great opportunity to continue making meaning of the experience in a personal way. Deep contemplation on what the experience meant to you, why it was important, and how you may have changed are good places to begin.

Consider who is asking you about the Institute and what you want to share with that particular person.
Would you share the same stories with the person who sponsored you to attend the Institute as you would with your best friend? How about what you’d share with a mentor and what you’d share with your family? Taking time to think about this can provide you with a focus for the conversation.

You don’t have to talk about every single thing that happened.
At least not right away. Consider a particularly meaningful moment or something important that you learned and talk about that one thing. We’ve shared a list of ideas to get you started and to prepare you to respond to questions like, “How was the Institute?” and “What did you do at LeaderShape?” in a meaningful way.

What did you do specifically and why what about that activity will stick with you?
Which activity was the most powerful for you and why?

What is one thing that you think about differently now?
What is the most important thing you learned about yourself?
How are you different as a result of the experience?

Who did you meet and how did they influence you?
What did you learn about yourself and the relationships you have outside of the Institute?
What did you discover about how you can contribute to groups that you are a part from activities like DiSC and Star Power?

What do you personally believe the world needs? Why do you believe this? What do you want to do about it?

We’re curious! What suggestions do you have for explaining the Institute experience? Share them in the comments!

How Are You Feeling?

So how are you feeling at this time of year? Really feeling.

I’m slightly overwhelmed with the thought of making the holiday season, as well as the end of the year, a happy experience for everyone in my life. I’m a tad anxious at wondering how a blended family will do over the coming days as we all adjust to a new family situation. I’m a skosh nostalgic of family gatherings in the past and trying to live up to expectations. I’m more than ticked that I can’t stay focused in the present.


A few weeks ago I mentioned in my email about this year’s annual fund drive how itis so easy to hide from the world and that we have so much to want to hide from. Most of what we want to hide from is made up in our head. We catastrophize every world event, every awkward look, every miscommunication into something that is 10 times worse than it might actually be. In many ways, we can look back on the year and feel the same way.

The missed opportunities. The failed relationships. The use of the wrong word. The pain we take on.

I’m not going to do that any more. I mean it.

I used to think that life was supposed to be perfect. That I was supposed to be perfect. I thought that I could solve everything, be everything, fix everything. That hasn’t worked for me.

What has worked is to show up as authentically as I can. Admit my mistakes. Say I’m sorry. Listen and don’t solve. Be present. The best gift or experience I can give my family, friends, and colleagues is to be present and raw. Be vulnerable. Realize that the end of the year can bring a ton of feelings that can be positive and negative. They are just feelings. We all have them.

Let’s embrace those feelings and be thankful for the messes in our lives. Be grateful for the “warts” in our families. Be accepting of the process that we are all in.

Take a deep breath and realize we are all imperfect. Imperfections make the best stories. The best memories. The best laughs.

So instead of looking at the end of the year as a time of never ending lines, unlimited sale advertisements, and guilt for what we haven’t done, let’s focus on the present. The good right in front of our eyes. The smiles we can return. The nods that let someone know that we see them.

Those feelings are the ones we will cherish. The ones we remember. The ones that make us smile.

That helps to make a more just, caring, and thriving world.