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:: language, expertise, systems of oppression + stymies ::

i’ve always loved to write and had some sorta way with words, in service of poetry and persuasion, self-expression and communication of information

i’ve spoken often and with ease, in front of classrooms, on stages, on camera. to individuals and groups — of handfuls, roomfuls and schoolfuls, made up of students, colleagues, strangers and peers

people have often told me that when i talk, people listen. that they WANT to listen. that i speak with confidence, intentionality and passion

and yet…

i’ve also been told to be more bold in my language, that my maybes and might bes water down the power of my words

and sure, there’s certainly room for that conversation, for me to consider where i might be hedging potential bets and beating around unbeknownst bushes

but for the most part, i boldly say go screw

conventional “wisdom” says saying “i think” before a statement demolishes your authority and diminishes your perceived expertise

that inviting people to consider a thing rather than telling them it’s what they need is tantamount to air kissing their doing of that thing goodbye

that you’ve got to replace all your “mights” with “musts,” all your reflections with declarations, and all the space in which other people’s thoughtful decisions might be decided with steadfast, ostensibly-indisputable spew from you

that THAT’S how to establish authority and “earn” respect

it’s woven into our marketing tactics and our models of leadership as well as the way we relate, and it’s designed to keep people places

and i deeply, wholeheartedly pass

on a personal level, a professional level, and on a societal level, too

when viewed through this lens, is it really any wonder we (in the US) elected a president who was much more committed to telling us how great he was than in actually doing any work toward the great-making he claimed to want for our country again?

ugh. but seriously

for me, a stand against the pressure to conform is a stand for a language that reflects my values, a stand for those values themselves

refusing to idealize big bossy declarations over nuanced invitations and suggestions in my biz messaging is a stand against the practice of bullying and steamrolling by way of big bossy declarations that we see so often today around politics and social justice, but is also insidious in all sorts of personal relationships, too

it’s a stand against going hard about facts without doing the work to qualify them, as well as glorifying what’s called fact at the expense of lived experience in front of you

it’s a stand against the hunger to prove an argument over the possibility of learning a new truth

when we equate certitude and absolutism with authority and expertise and bossiness with leadership, we end up with authorities, experts and leaders who steamroll, grandstand and place blame

politically, we know what this looks like. but what about in the coaches, experts and biz leaders we seek for strategies and support?

it looks like experts who promise extreme success without being up front about what it will take, or with little to back up their claims

it looks like leaders who are more concerned with how they look than with examining who they are and owning any space for change

it looks like coaches who focus on the faults within you instead of the wisdom, who tell you their way is the only way or the best way or, my personal pet annoyance — coaches who tell you the answer lies within you but proceed to high five themselves for the answer being within them

it looks like bold claims but little substance, gross misalignment between word and deed, phony smiles masking harsh judgment, pretty pictures but no soul

and again, i say go screw

it’s all tied together, the personal, professional and political

yes, this is about heteronormative racist ableist classist patriarchal systemics of oppression. and no, i’m not being melodramatic or reaching

and yes, there are many exceptions. we exist along a timeline in motion and not in static moments

change takes time. this is true, and its truth is a part of the problem

BECAUSE it’s true, it serves to placate discontent — which allows the status quo to stay quo

and the greater truth, the truth that supersedes it, is that although change takes time, it takes a hell of a lot longer within systems that are made up of processes and procedures that stymie it at every turn

(pretty sure that was my first use of “stymie” in the wild, though i shall endeavor that it shan’t be my last)

this is classic misdirection, and it happens all the time. what makes it complex is that a lot of misdirectors aren’t doing it on purpose

because there’s truth involved, heels dig in at disagreement and false righteousness abounds

they think they’re defending THE TRUTH because they ARE defending A truth

i say they, but we all do it in our own ways. until we see it, and then hopefully we seek to do better

so yeah… social justice, reflecting on self and situation, and living your most positively thriving life: you cannot do the latter without tending to the former by way of the one in the middle

as is often the case, i did not end up where i thought i was heading. i wonder if you made the ride with me :)

here’s to listening, learning, growing, and knowing where to draw your own line of go screw

and bringing stymie back (?yeah)

xxoo, cc