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Privilege Demands Responsibility

Read Best Selling Author Janet M. Harvey's CEO Corner of the April 2021 Newsletter. Go deeper with the Invite Change book: invitechangebook.com

“Anyone can do your duty. Your responsibility, only you can. A duty you love to do responsibly is a privilege.” ― Girish Kohli

Health is wealth. That is a motto from the World Health Organization which established April 7 as World Health Day in 1950. As our world finds new footing with vaccinations in arms we must also sustain vigilance for safety from variants. Health and the absence of it still weigh heavily in our hearts and minds. And yet, the privilege of being healthy carries both a personal responsibility to make wise choices and a responsibility to our family, community, and workplace to add our agency toward each person’s well-being. Derived from the Latin word, aperit, April as this month’s name means open, as trees, flowers, and seeds in the ground begin to awaken and bloom. How open are you? What change are you open to inviting in your life this month?

During last week’s inviteCHANGE broadcast I explored the subject of sovereignty and social progress with my dear friend and colleague, Shariff Abdulla, founder of the organization Common Way. The bedrock of sovereignty is identity, and “we don’t know who we are as individuals and as a family. We don’t recognize who we are as a community or a nation, who have no sense of humanity as one global species. Our challenge is clear. Our leaders either avoid the challenge or make it worse. It’s up to each of us to come together as a sovereign.” In fact, the US Declaration of Independence concludes with this idea that what our founders meant by “we the people” was to replace the sovereign King George with a different sovereign, all of us together. Unfortunately, rhetoric and written statements claim a level of resolve toward generating a more equitable world that fails. As our guest blogger this month, Zu Dietzenbach, Change Management Consultant, Change Leadership Coach, and Speaker, writes we fail to translate our enlightened thinking into the uncomfortable actions necessary to produce equity in access, opportunity, and resources essential to succeed. As you think about what change you are open to invite this month, consider her invitation: “Discomfort opens the door to transformation. Disruption breathes change.”

If there are one or more areas of your life that you notice you are not open and available for change, consider this question: what motivates you to turn your attention away? For many I’ve explored this question with, the non-ego enhancing answer is self-interest. Either you feel an intolerable level of risk – emotional and/or physical – or the thought of breaking with tradition and socialization crashes your sense of self, identity, and authority to make choices in your life. Too many people on this planet experience both of these feelings on a daily basis. I know I have privilege, certainly from my socialization as a white American, however, I had no control over that epigenetics. Yet, I do have control every day over my choices and actions. This is where integrity arises. What do I choose to stand for, open to, and actively pursue that changes the status quo? This question provokes answers that change my actions from treating the symptoms of a status quo that discriminates, excludes, and oppresses people to a path that meets people where they are and from my privilege uses my agency to understand what people need to enjoy full, healthy lives and give them that in every interaction and choice I make.

The ICF Gulf Coast chapter hosts a one-day conference tomorrow, April 8. I am speaking about listening with a firm intent to learn through an open exchange and open attention. In order to honor our ethical standards for professional conduct, coaches must adopt this mindset and learn to establish relationship agreements about what’s permissible and non-negotiable, especially when a conversation explores emotionally heated vulnerable content. We must open to learning how to enter conversations that were previously off-limits: social identity and the cultural norms and beliefs about equity and inclusion. For the coaches who are reading this newsletter, stop for a moment and consider that last time you took a very careful look at your client materials, for example, your welcome package, your coaching agreement, your client coaching plan, and the tools you incorporate to your work. I invite you to consider this an opportunity to choose an action that increases equity in your work. For those of you interested in coaching supervision, there is also an opportunity to dive into that learning at the end of the month with America's Coaching Supervision Network from April 29-May 1. There are many useful sessions, and I am also delivering a coaching supervision demonstration at the intersection with racism. Last, and certainly not least, be sure and check out the speakers and sessions we are hosting for International Coaching Week, May 17-23. Registration is open and there are some wonderful benefits for early registration!

This journey that human society is on at this time in history is not easy yet is also in my view, pregnant with a tremendous opportunity to bring more balance and belonging to our daily lives. If we accept responsibility for our privilege to be at choice, then we are ready to face the challenges of our time. That includes being open to include those people who we oppose, creating a pathway to bring everyone into the circle of our humanity. May April give you a chance to be open and be energized by inviting change!

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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