On April 20, 2021, Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis Police Officer was found guilty on all counts for the death of George Floyd. Does the verdict take us closer to the finish line or does it represent a new starting line for justice and inclusion?
Anyone who is an advocate or leader for inclusion can tell you the minute the verdict was read, there would be no rest for the weary. The verdict establishes a precedent, but the work involved to keep moving forward now gets even harder. Advocates have to begin to take this precedent and continue to move closer to establishing inclusion as the norm; not the exception. Verdicts like this give hope to those who have fought long and hard for inclusion and equity. However, when leading inclusion one of the hardest lessons to learn is that hope is not a strategy. The verdict presents us all with the question, “What comes next?”
Unfortunately, there is no finish line when it comes to inclusion. I have learned over time that I can definitely move the ball forward on the field. However, I have found the closer I get to what I perceive as the finish line, the further away it keeps moving. Finish lines are not static, they are constantly changing and expanding. The question is, how do we keep progressing faster toward our vision for inclusion when the need is ever growing?
Just as finish lines are forever changing, we all must change to keep pace with them. The most important thing for any movement to make progress is leadership. I have found in my own life, to be an effective leader, I have to keep my personal growth as one of my biggest priorities. It is hard to teach and lead others when you are disengaged and feel excluded from your own life. You cannot give what you do not have.
Before you lead others toward inclusion, become very clear about what inclusion means to you. Leadership is more about looking in the mirror and learning to lead yourself before trying to lead others. What are you doing to lead inclusion or feel more included in your own life? Inclusion is different for everyone. Close your eyes and envision what your finish line feels like to you. Define an experience where you felt an authentic sense of belonging. What steps did you take to get there? How can you transform your personal growth and progress as a role model for inclusion toward leading others to be more inclusive?
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