You Belong in the Arena

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First of all, we are all connected so when we gather and when we process together we are able to reflect more fully and with a greater balance than we can alone. AND interestingly because we are all connected, each one of us alone is fully creative, resourceful and whole. SO THEN, HOW is it possible that each one of us alone can be enough and yet together we are greater than the sum of our parts. It sounds like a puzzle.

When we fire together, we survive together, which wires us together.

You’ve heard of pathways in the brain and how the more we embed a behavior in our day or life, the more deeply that pathway is entrenched in our subconscious brain. Like when people walk the same path every day across a field of snow and the snow gets packed down, a pathway for others to follow, making everyone’s journey easier. Like when you drive or transit your way to work the same exact way every day – eventually you can do it without thinking about it and sometimes you get there without remembering the details of the trip. In time with repetition, it’s hard wired.

This can free up the executive functions of the brain to focus elsewhere so it can be a good thing. It can also ensure we are stuck in very specific ways of engaging and seeing the world around us resulting in missing many of the cues and impacts along the way. Our biases and limited beliefs and lazy thinking take over.

Something as simple and every day as conversation can pull us out of it. When your brain’s synapses are fired up by another’s, the opportunity for insight and learning and collective awareness is possible AND when something special comes out of it, the engaged brains are wired together for collective performance beyond what any one person can accomplish alone. If you have ever been on a high performing team, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s special and you know you want more of IT – the high of feeling connected to other human beings!

“The Strength in one of us, comes from all of us.” – unknown

I heard this quoted by Ron MacLean (CBC Sports) during the 2014 Olympics and I quickly wrote it down and searched for the source since I included it at the bottom of my e-mail for a few years. I thought of it again when I envisioned the possibilities for the #RRTs to #evawCAN.

When we accept that each of us alone is enough AND that together we are stronger, we will solve some of the biggest issues of our time – complex problems that have plagued us for a long time.

This week on ImpactBank’s: the Kickass Koach podcast – episode 100, I share an update on my passion project – the #RRTs to #evawCAN (eradicate violence against women and girls in Canada). The experience has emboldened me and humbled me; it has annoyed me and lifted my faith in our ability to build understanding; it has disgusted me and warmed my heart. I feel more capable of making a difference than ever. AND more convinced of the importance of community, diversity and inclusion to make any lasting human change in community, organizations and family.

A Call for Your Participation

We haven’t hit our tipping point yet – we have over 100 people on the mailing list and over 500 views on our Eventbrite page and we have had men out for all 11 of the #RRTs. We have never filled one (capacity is 12) and we have never had 100% of those registered actually attend. Clearly there is a lot of room to learn and grow. While we will persist through the summer (one evening #RRT in June and another over the summer), we will kick off with a full schedule in September. We are considering testing an on-line version to include those outside Toronto and another where we invite women to join the men AND we will continue to watch for the signs we are ready to expand beyond Toronto for many more local #RRTs. ONE PLANNED TWIST: I’ve already committed, at the request of a participant, to focus one #RRT in the September to explore the need and support for shelters for men who are victims of intimate partner violence. I look forward to learning and being challenged in this conversation.

On Dialogue

“The collective thought is more powerful than the individual thought.” – Bohm, On Dialogue

My friend Bo, who helps by facilitating the #RRTs, referenced one of my favourite books recently while we were discussing how we could lift the #RRTs to another level: On Dialogue by David Bohm, the renowned Physicist. We agreed to formally reference a few guiding principles based on Bohm at the start of each of the #RRT conversations; this has proven to shift the tone and tenor of the conversations OR it may be just the way I listen and hear the conversation that has changed.

As I confess in episode 100, I experience moments when the #RRT conversations have been a bit alien to me. Some times it may be the result of men expressing resistance to the provocative focus I chose, while other times it’s my reaction to a perceived dismissive attitude toward women’s experience. Some times the arguments are consistent and some times it is difficult to make out any logic or reason in comments. AND YET, every one of the participants has contributed to the conversation – no exceptions AND that has given me an opportunity to feel challenged and stretched in my views. I have always welcomed that AND yet it gets more and more difficult as I get older and maybe more strident in my views, which makes it even more important for me to expose myself to the challenges.

You are welcome!I’m more, not less convinced this is a great idea. We don’t have to agree to learn from each other – we just have to come willing to hear an other perspective. I welcome the disagreements – even the raised voices. We won’t all agree – that isn’t the purpose of conversation anyway.

A Reflection

In episode 100, I chose to share a reflection I’ve been having recently about how we engage with each other. I see it as a conflict in how we need to challenge to change and grow but how we resist being challenged.

On one hand I absolutely respect and welcome the concepts/thinking/challenges Generation Z/Millennials have surfaced to expand our thinking, experience and openness to gender fluidity; how they’ve forced us to explore different approaches to how we work, to our politics and relationships.

I was in University in the early 80’s and I recall a boy I was interested in and another who was a really good friend “coming out of the closet”, as people would say then, but not publicly, while still in school, because of the lack of acceptance. Less than 25 years later my niece, while in primary school, asked if it were true that when she grew up she could marry any boy or any girl she wanted. When she was told that yes she could, she responded by saying something like, “That’s great – it’s going to be hard to chose – that’s a lot of people.”

Here’s the conflict I feel. There’s also a push from the same innovative challenging generation that inspires me to grow and think differently demanding safe spaces where different or unappealing ideas may not be given voice. I was recently told, “it’s uncomfortable and I have too much stress. I need to be with people that make me feel good about myself….and if you don’t agree with me I don’t want to hear what you have to say….”

How can we dynamically grow and move forward together if we can’t engage in the uncomfortable conversations. What will happen to us if we all demand safe spaces where we are covered in bubble wrap to shield us from that which challenges our sensibilities? We can’t learn from each other that way – we can’t cooperate and advance as a society if we are’t willing to be in the arena and fully engaged and in the game.

The #RRTs to #evawCAN have not always been easy – I haven ‘t always liked what I hear AND I still find some of the perspectives unhealthy and even unnerving BUT I’m stretched because of them and that’s the blessing and the curse of being at the table – in a democracy – testing and pushing our freedoms to assemble, to speech, to a perspective.

Join our #RRTs…come out once…. and again, if you are so moved. If you want to start smaller, add your name to our mailing list, for regular updates, follow us on Twitter @evawCAN or join our Facebook group. Stretched yourself to engage in the collective. Whether it’s through your silence or through your full engagement YOU are a key part of where we go from here – make it count

Next time: we’ll return to the usual flow where we pick up again on shadow specifically Shadow as Motivation.

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