On Social Justice

Oceanside, CA / USA - June 7, 2020: People hold signs during peaceful Black Lives Matter protest march. One reads `United We Stand`.
Oceanside, CA / USA – June 7, 2020: People hold signs during peaceful Black Lives Matter protest march. One reads `United We Stand`.

Recent media reports paint a rather dim view of the initial efforts undertaken by corporations and public policy groups to address social justice. Driven by public outrage generated by man’s inhumanity to man, our communities and institutions have tried to react to a call for change. From church assemblies to town halls to city council meetings many voices are heard, heads nod in agreement, pronouncements are made, then we go back to where we were–victims of the tyranny of inertia described so well by economist J.K. Galbraith decades ago. And, as the days move on after the summer of 2020, protests continue, anger mounts and little has changed.

Many corporations have stepped up and invested considerable resources to bring trainers in who provide a variety of programs that by all accounts have provided as much pain as they have provided gain by exaggerating differences. At best, the results have resulted in clenched teeth as nerves get bared and sessions end with perfunctory hugging.

We cannot afford to lose this moment!

Despite social justice coming to the forefront during the summer of 2020 we have not been able to take advantage of this inflection point and are mired in a endless do-loop trying to point fingers and assign blame for centuries of failure to treat all men and women equal. It’s time to decide whether to continue to look in the rear-view mirror and attempt to right all wrongs, or build a future for all of us. It’s time to promote deliberate change.

We need to dismount from the crest of the tidal wave of sentiment that overcame the nation and globe this year and look closely at the most important source of change. Perhaps a biblical reference is necessary, “Physician heal thyself.” Or, as Michael Jackson encouraged us a decade ago, each of us needs to look in the mirror. Until we are willing to take a methodical look at ourselves, regardless of where we place ourselves on the spectrum of bigotry and open up to those around us, we will continue to mire ourselves in the quicksand of disrespect.

Having worked with thousands of participants in our leadership programs that are based on discovery and an inclusive approach to creativity, any methodology attempting to come to grips with social justice should start with an inventory of our personal needs and expectations, as well as our neighbors needs and expectations. Only after comparing those needs and expectations can we have a sincere dialog as to what values and principles we hold dearest. At Academy Leadership we have provided various organizations and groups the tools to undertake this discussion over the years and the results have been unanimous. When you understand yourself better and your neighbor understands themselves better, you have something to share and now you can build that bridge to healing. The discussion turns outward and leads to inclusion and collaboration. The conversation goes from “me and you” to “we and us.”

This purposeful opportunity includes what we call the Energize2Lead inventory of our three dimensions: needs; expectations; and, preferences that write the DNA of our energy and how we use it to solve problems. Couple this exercise and learning experience with an opportunity to detail values and expectations, yours and those you associate with, while writing your leadership philosophy and you suddenly realize the path ahead is well lighted. The end result is a more personal commitment to seize this inflection point.

By knowing yourself better and appreciating the differences others bring to our society enables us to achieve a much better dialog and consequently, allows us to map out a consensual strategy to move forward.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

– The Rev. Martin Luther King