PAUSE and Reflect on Inclusive Leadership

submitted by Lindsay Beal, ILC Board Member

Lindsay runs Spider’s Eye, a creative arts business in Victoria, BC.

“Something that is clicking into place for me in the Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential course – with twenty-five participants from ten different countries – is how the core of Inclusive Leadership is heart to heart connecting.”

My name is Lindsay, after an uncle on my mom’s side and an aunt on my dad’s side. I’ve always liked it that my name has been given to boys and girls for many generations. My career in combining the arts (visual, theatre, writing, dance) with health and education has been greatly influenced by one of my brother’s’ experiences with a serious brain injury and another brother’s experiences with schizophrenia. We have learned a lot from each other over the years. I find my family are great allies in one another’s projects. One of my favourite projects was working an open studio that was all inclusive. People brought a wide range of abilities and gifts and learned so much from each other.

The universe is offering me a pause from my career right now. My current path is approached with a step and a pause, step, pause and repeat. While I’ve been aiming to be patient and compassionate with my approach, I continued to have doubts and moments of angst. I recently adopted a cat and named him “Pause” partly because he is black with white paws, and partly because when he seeks me out, he reminds me to take a pause from what I’m doing. Taking a pause is something I’m good at. I would say that taking a pause is one of my gifts. I often offer the PAUSE reminder for others. Pause, the cat, is my reminder of this gift from the universe. I’m gaining more clarity and conviction about taking this PAUSE in life.

The Inclusive Leadership Co-operative has been one of my allies during this time of pausing. I am serving on the board of the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative and co-facilitating Inclusive Leadership education. I am currently mentoring our “Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential Course”. Many individuals and organizations hold the values of acceptance and inclusion, but have not really looked at the skills involved in being inclusive so this course is great pro-action.

The Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential course begins by introducing the international Earth Charter as our global framework. Although I feel like I am a person with great integrity, looking closely at this value in the context of ecological integrity and the other pillars of the Earth Charter, compelled me to realize this means bridging the areas of my life to strengthen my integrity and to bring my values into action. I followed up what I was learning by facilitating an Earth Charter activity in a creative movement course that I teach called Motion Ways. For our warm-up dance, two participants chose Integrity, one person chose Respect, and the others chose Peace. Through my dance with integrity, I learned about my backbone, alignment and flexibility. The other person through her integrity dance, received the word and sound “click” like clicking into place.

Something that is clicking into place for me in this course – with twenty-five participants from ten different countries – is how the core of Inclusive Leadership is heart to heart connecting. When fellow participant, Mohammed J Kelleh, shared his advocacy for women and girls in Liberia I could connect even though my life has been nothing like girls in Liberia, who need protection from being forced into womanhood too soon. My heart could connect because I once needed the police and the law to protect me from an abusive relationship, and my daughter and grandson both suffered abuse from teachers. I wish we didn’t need protection from other people, but it seems we all do. We have much to teach each other by sharing our experiences and our family members’ experiences being under served, neglected, abused and excluded in other ways. Care, compassion, healing, understanding and advocacy are all ways of breaking through and breaking out of other-imposed and self-imposed patterns and habits that have become strait-jackets. People who are focused, persevering and working together are not defeated by circumstances.

After four weeks of studying online together, we are half way through this course. As I read and respond to each participant’s comments about what they are learning about their Inclusive Leadership potential, and as we share our action plans, I’m feeling really hopeful for the future. I have a sense that our little group of students who are sharing our values and plans with each other will spread Inclusive Leadership values and skills around the world. I have a sense that in the not-too-distant future, respect for animals, for trees, for people of all ages and abilities and for all living beings will become normal.