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Choose. Life Requires This of Us.

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“For us there can be no escape, no withdrawal, no private arena in which we can turn our backs on the sorrows of humanity, saying “I am not responsible. Others have created a mess; let them mend it.” The writing on the world’s wall is plain “Learn to live together or in separateness you die.” The choice is ours. - Vimala Thakar, Indian Social Activist (1921-2009)

I was asked this week why I entitled the book I wrote in 2020, Invite Change. I realized in the conversation that my friend was unable to see the word ‘Invite’; she only saw the word ‘Change.’ I witnessed another example of the power of human neurobiology when something evokes fear about safety and security. That is what even the idea of change does for so many people. Yet, in order to choose, we must learn to shift our mindset, and that means to invite a change in worldview and therefore the choices for how to relate with and experience daily life. Mindset shift is our most underdeveloped capacity as a society.

People can learn to the last breath, receptive, without rigidity; learning is a choice. What do you notice when you focus your mindset on your agency, strengths, and passion for humanity? The common human force of imagination propels us forward and generates an aliveness as we envision a future state more satisfying, and more loving. That shift in mindset contributes to social progress and shapes the path toward belonging and healthy relationships. One of my earliest teachers, social psychologist Dr. Edgar Schein, declares after more than seventy years of study and work, that relationship is the fundamental unit of society. As we become aware of the consequences of the pandemic and the ripple effects on society, loneliness and separation are accelerating a mental health crisis. Relationships frayed by a dualistic worldview that believes in a life scorecard filled with wins and losses, good and bad choices disrupt our sense of normalcy. Paradoxically, that means staying the same, attached to the emotional memory of satisfaction through habits and preferences, no longer has integrity. The mindset shift called for now is to move from treating the status quo as if that is producing temporary suffering and separation to changing the status quo toward a more unifying, interconnected experience.

For many, the first thought of change provokes a feeling of loss and that something bad is more likely than something good as a result of the change. An internal voice of doubt drowns our voice of inspiration and faith in the human capacity to create, learn and produce a life experience that is equitable, fair, and inclusive. The perception of imposed change generates a belief in powerlessness. While this may be true of the circumstance it is not ever the truth internally. In the wise words of Marcus Auerlius, “You have power over your mind -- not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Living sovereign means to not be subject or slave to the outside control of another. Becoming sovereign offers an invitation to be true to one’s whole self in mindset, intention, choice, and action. Being sovereign is a restorative process, not a new set of skills. Every human being possesses an internal agency for a mindset of sovereignty that compels aspiration, creates faith in new choices, and agility to respond with the care that dissolves fear, anxiety, and self-absorption.

I am grateful daily to be alive long enough to witness a generational mindset shift in the leaders who occupy today’s workplace. 35% of today’s US workforce belong to the Millennial generation, that is 56 million people. Generation Z, the most ethnically and racially diverse generation alive, are 53 million people. Combined, this is the future of workplace and community leading. These leaders fiercely demand authenticity, integrity, and earning trust, as well as adopting a mindset that places mental health and harmony above greed. They have seen the consequences of inequity in relationships, access, and opportunity. As a result, these leaders expect respect for change and to be granted the autonomy to produce it. The generative principle that all people are fundamentally whole, resourceful, capable, and creative allows for a strong reverence of relationship and connection. These leaders see through new filters that transform lack and limitation into creativity and ingenious solutions. Instead of hoarding, their natural inclination to give, sharing learning, knowledge, insight, and vision. Whether racial injustice, climate crises, or the collapse of democracy fuels their passion, this next generation knows now is the time to pack light, shed the status quo, shift their mindset and change the world. They are inviting change and inviting the rest of us to join.

Ask yourself, in what areas of your life as you not living sovereign? Then, ask, how can I choose to shift my mindset to enjoy more integrity, harmony, and response-agility? These are the choices necessary to invite change and cross the bridge into the next age of society.

Curious why your mindset matters? Check out this video!

Janet M. Harvey, MCC

Experienced with individuals at the Board of Directors, “C” Chair, Executive and Senior Management levels, Janet assists executives in adopting effective habits of perception and behavior to lead and accelerate corporate strategies. Typical engagements address executive development in the following areas: articulate and inspire through clarity of vision, enable respectful challenge, debate and catalyze synergy for strategic business choices, risk/reward critical thinking about investments and shareholder value, plan leader succession and architect sustainable cultural/strategic change.
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