Leading Inclusion from Within

leadership May 21, 2021
If you are here reading this blog, you have a yearning to feel more included and to help others do the same. When I began to lead a nonprofit whose mission was inclusion, I was surprised by how many people yearned to be included but struggle to authentically feel it.
Every year I train close to 5,000 people about inclusion. I often ask the question, “How many of you feel included?” I always clarify that question with, “I am not talking about “fitting in” or achieving popularity, but feeling authentically included." Amazingly, very few people report that they feel an authentic sense of belonging. Sadly, it is something we all yearn for, but very few people experience.
One of the first things I encourage you to do is to write down all the ways you attempt to try to fill the emptiness you feel inside.  Have you felt that if you had enough money, better career, greater physical beauty, or married the right person, then you could feel a sense of self-worth and belonging?  Unfortunately, the problem with trying to achieve a sense of belonging from things external to you, is the more you achieve and accumulate, the more you want. It starts an endless cycle or addiction to chasing after temporary satisfaction; not an authentic sense of belonging.  I can always tell when I am chasing after the wrong thing. I feel a sense of satisfaction, but within a very short time, I begin to yearn for more.  Rather than giving me a sense of belonging, it leaves me feeling  that I will never achieve, have, or be enough. I keep getting further away from who am and what I want to become; not closer to finding my own sense of belonging. James Carey, a famous comedian and actor said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they dreamt of, so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
As leaders for inclusion, we have to be very careful as to where our lives are leading others. Are you teaching people that inclusion is external to them or based upon others accepting them? Are you leading people to compare who they are to what others have accumulated or achieved? Leading people to believe their self-worth is measured by competing against others does more to create division not unity. The key to inclusion is not when somebody includes you, but when you learn to include yourself. Nobody can give that to you or make you feel worthy.  That begins and ends with you. When your sense of belonging is dependent on others and how they make you feel, you will find yourself constantly trying to climb out of a dark hole that is endless. 
The first step to leading inclusion is to lead from within. When you begin to feel your own sense of authentic belonging, you will be amazed at how the doors to inclusion will begin to open. Instead of following others to obtain what they have, like-minded people will be drawn to your inner strength and calling for inclusion. They will not be drawn to what you have, but who you are.  Inclusion is not something you find. Inclusion is always present within you. The best way to lead people toward inclusion begins by introducing them to the limitless power and sense of belonging that lies within them.

All proceeds from the Include ME! book and donations will go toward our mission of promoting inclusion. Click below to purchase the book.