In my meditation today I received a prompt, “What do I need to take a stand for?” Over the years I’ve taken a stand for my kids – advocating for the specialized instructional style to help my younger daughter thrive, taking a stand for my son after several sports injuries presented potential lasting effects, and taking a stand for all three of my children as we navigated a new design to our family when their father and I divorced.
In all of those situations I had to rock the boat, challenging the status quo and standing up for what I wholeheartedly believe in – the best interests of my children. I had to weather the resistance of one to four family members and occasionally some “professionals,” such as doctors, a teacher, and opposing counsel.
Thinking back over that has me notice how tough I was (and still am) – a proverbial Mama Bear with the courage to take care of my babies.
As Georgia PTA Board Member and Health & Wellness Chair several years ago, I took a stand for all kids. I advocated for healthier school nutrition awareness and education for healthier families. We met with vocal and passive aggressive resistance from many who loved the status quo and for example, liked K-5 students graphing with (and eating) a pack of skittles during elementary math, followed by celebrating with donuts and cupcakes regularly – often all in the same instructional day. It took some stamina to stand up for moderation and present the science that showed the effects of an overabundance of sugar on student learning and long-lasting health.
As a certified professional coach, I am passionate about taking a stand for my clients, holding space for their greatness and the possibility to create a life and business they love. I help my clients expand their perspectives, hone their skills, and adopt a CEO mindset as they grow personally and professionally. I advocate for their success while helping them overcome their own resistance or limiting beliefs that they sometimes hold on to for dear life!
Another current “calling” I am stepping into is to bring about crucial conversations to bridge a gap of understanding for racial and social justice. I am being led to help create an opening for listening – to ask White people (including myself) to suspend our defensiveness – to set aside what we think we know – and to open our hearts and minds to truly listen to our brothers and sisters who experience the world very differently than we do.
I am facing the resistance of White people who insist they “love” people of color – and offer evidence because they gave their former housekeeper a place to stay while she was going through a divorce – or they have friends at work or school that are Black or Latinx. Not to take anything away from those experiences, and I am in favor of showing kindness, but those are experiences of White people. We already understand our own perspectives.
The stand I am feeling called to take is to try to understand the perspective of Black and Brown people. I want to listen to experiences that are not my own, to listen from a place of hearing, to empathize, and to hold space to honor what has been experienced and endured – AND to get into action to bring about change.
Part of my mission has been to seek out more and more information, to really stretch outside of my comfort zone. I am blessed to have Black friends that have shared some of their experiences with me. I realize that brings up their pain and trauma each time they retell their story, though, so it’s on me to find out more. I have also been watching documentaries, videos, and reading books, articles, and letters to further broaden my perspective. If you are interested in educating yourself on this topic, here are some resources.
Like other “stands” I have taken, this too requires me to push myself beyond my comfort zone – to risk ridicule or alienation socially and professionally. Sure, it would be “easier” to accept the status quo or to placate myself with sentiments of “I am not racist,” but to me, taking a stand is more than not being racist. I am taking a stand AGAINST racism. For information on how to take a stand against racism, check out Ibram Kendi’s book, How To Be An Anti-Racist, or his podcast as a guest of Brene Brown on the same topic.
As I embark on this journey, I know there is a lot of fear and misunderstanding on both “sides.” It is my hope and prayer that I can make a positive difference and help bridge the gap of humanity – to help everyone feel a little safer, to feel valued, and to feel like they matter.
It’s been said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” What do you stand for? Is it providing exemplary customer service for all patrons of your business? Is it the homeless or kids with cancer? Are you taking a stand for your town by eating out and shopping local? Taking a stand usually involves pushing a boundary and taking a risk. This may be the time to reflect on just what is important to you and what you can add to the community. I encourage you to look at where you can push your comfort zone or take a stand for something that really matters to you, your team, or your business.
Kim Ellet is a certified professional coach and owner of The Growth Coach of Metro Atlanta. She finds joy in helping successful leaders committed to continuous improvement, be more of who they are, dream bigger dreams, and accomplish more than they realized was possible.