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October Newsletter CEO Corner

When it comes to social progress and choosing civility - run a marathon, not a sprint, and remember that every good journey begins with the first steps toward an aspiring vision.

I am an entrepreneur who continuously seeks out ways to contribute value and create opportunities for learning, growth, and change that generate greater well-being for society. Our vision at inviteCHANGE is to shape a world where people love their life’s work and to touch 1.0 billion people over the next decade. In Simon Sinek’s 2019 book, The Infinite Game, he shares, “And when our lives are over, those who joined us on the path to Fulfillment will keep going without us and inspire others to join them too.” This quote captures an anthem that all of us at inviteCHANGE embody each day. Unfortunately, as the cartoon from last month’s Pennsylvania Times above suggests, the civility with each other to be on the path to fulfillment is not sufficiently shared.

I am an optimist by nature, perceiving what is good and true in another person(s) despite behavior and speech that points to the contrary. The story about Frances Haugen awakened something in me that my optimism has been hiding. Grief about the loss of civility in daily life. Frances is known as the whistleblower from Facebook. Her finding that most disturbed me was this, “It’s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions.” Facebook and many others have placed a premium on livelihood and profits without regard for the societal consequences of inspiring anger. The change in Facebook algorithms, designed to increase engagement and, therefore, revenue from advertising, necessitates content that engages. According to her, the company found that the best engagement is the kind that instills fear and hate in users. They have pursued what any savvy business entrepreneur would do. Generate and showcase more of what engages; things that inspire fear, anger, and hate, such as conspiracy, corruption, victimization, and bullying, are what most effectively drive profit.

This story and my reflections upon it led me to look up the legal definitions for what is and is not free speech. According to Wikipedia “While hate speech is not a legal term in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that most of what would qualify as hate speech in other western countries is legally protected free speech under the First Amendment.” In my mind, what makes hate different than fear or anger alone, is that hate is a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands action. 7 in 10 Americans report that incivility is at a crises level in our country, and 57% of those respondents perceive social media and the failure to manage anger and hate, particularly when not truthful, as the cause of the crises.

2020 was the deadliest year for gun violence in two decades, and 2021 is on pace to pass that mark. Unfortunately, these numbers are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg on the deathly consequences of incivility. If you want to explore this subject further, allow a few minutes to read the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.

Perhaps at this point in your reading, you wonder why I am talking about “those people” who are the ones with hate speech. International law prohibits incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence. And yet, incitement continues everywhere. Those people are you and me and everyone we know. Why? While you may not be the one expressing the fear, anger, and hate, there is something about how we live in our society that creates the conditions for someone to hate so intensely that violence, often deadly violence, is the action that results. Our engagements with enterprise leaders and teams over the past twelve months demonstrate a shift. Leaders continuously report higher levels of tension, stress, and for some, anxiety with incivility. While some may pin the workplace climate on the continued navigation of a pandemic, the warning signs emerged long before that and were accelerated, not initiated by the pandemic. The “great resignation” is a symptom of this crisis, not a new phenomenon. I am optimistic about the waves of people pausing to think more clearly and consciously about what matters to them. For many, their desire for greater harmony and humanity in their lives leads to making new choices that align their daily lives with that yearning. This transformation can and will shift the tide.

Being generative in our everyday conversation is one step toward greater civility. Paying attention to our character and courageously choosing to invite love in place of hate and curiosity in place of judgment is a second step forward to more harmony. Run a marathon, not a sprint, and remember that every good journey begins with the first steps toward an aspiring vision. Whatever your walk of life, there is a way in our daily choices to bring more balance into relationships. Be purposeful to accept responsibility for giving respect and dignity to others no matter their circumstances. Attend to our planet, our shared home, with the same life-giving force that Earth gives to us all.

Join us on the path to fulfillment and restore civility, meaning being good citizens with each other. In 2022 we plan to focus on advancing coach capability for leaders and teams, and practitioners who seek to expand their artfulness as coaches in the world. We also have some exciting new programs launching next year as part of the inviteCHANGE Learning Cloud to expand access to the foundations of professional coaching for the public. We accept responsibility for our privilege to serve humanity and thank you for choosing to be part of the inviteCHANGE community.

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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