Are you willing to repeat together ‘it all stops with me?’
As a coach I’m used to telling people ‘it all starts with you’. Or, ‘it’s up to you to take action and make things happen.’ We all have the power to both start and stop what’s happening around us. We have seen this across the world as people mourn the death of George Floyd and cry out for justice and equality.
It’s confession time. I have no understanding around what it feels like to be a Black American or an Indigenous Australian. I can’t begin to comprehend their everyday reality. I am not a hugely political being and often criticise myself for that. But what I am very passionate about is Personal Development and from that angle I believe we can all make a positive difference by acknowledging that ‘it all stops with me.’
It’s true that without community and connectedness, we don’t fully exist as ourselves. Becoming who we really are is about learning how to connect more deeply.
You may say, “Anne I am part of a wonderful community of like-minded people and we look out for one another all the time.” That’s great, but it’s not enough!
Because there’s little challenge and not much growth when we hang out with those who are like us (and like us). Real growth comes when we stretch ourselves beyond our fixed mindset. When we step out of our comfort zone and into a place of willingness. Open to understand, listen, share, accept differences and rise together.
I choose today to take responsibility for my own thoughts, words and actions and how these affect my indigenous community and I invite you to do the same. I acknowledge that it all stops with me no matter how big or small my effort.
As human beings we all seek security, approval, appreciation and recognition. In fact, we strive for it. Pleasing others can become a pastime. Saying what we think others want to hear. Doing what we think will earn us praise or a sense of belonging (this includes gossip!) How do I know? Because I’ve done all of those things! And now it’s time to play my part in making our world a better place. It’s time to step up and take responsibility for what’s going on around me. To be a role model for my children. The bottom line is that if we all say ‘it stops with me’ then maybe it will.
I’d like to share a quick story of something profound that happened to me a few years ago…
I was at a Personal Development event where we were asked to participate in an exercise. It involved sitting directly opposite a complete stranger and staring into their eyes for a full 5 minutes. We were not allowed to look anywhere but into the other person’s eyes. I sat opposite a woman I’d never met before.
At first, we were both a bit giggly and self-conscious. But once we settled and focused on one another an incredible thing happened. I became drawn in beyond her eyes, to her heart and soul. I felt as if I’d known this woman forever. She seemed just like me. There was a deep connection, like long lost sisters, I could sense her joys and sorrows. Tears welled in her eyes and mine too. She reached out and took my hand in hers. Still staring into my eyes, we were transported to another time and place. A time where there were no boundaries. A place where there was no division. Just human being meeting human being on the most fundamental and deepest level.
The shrill of the bell brought us both back into the room. We dried our eyes, both speechless. The spell was broken but not the connection. Once you have that open, honest, vulnerable, unspoken communion with someone it cannot be taken away.
The irony of life is that real security comes when we are vulnerable, when we let our guard down when we trust in the goodness of human nature, when we see beyond the external.
Love is a verb! It’s time for us to wake up, step up, speak up and show up with compassion. To have an open heart and an open mind. Please hold me accountable in the future and let me support you too because as Bill Withers sings “we all need somebody to lean on.”