(First posted in Dec 2018, Claudia shares how impactful taking the ILC on-line course was for her. Enjoy!)
Here I am participating in “Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential” online. I feel gratitude for the community we are co-creating and have really enjoyed the journaling, writing and reflecting activities in this course. I feel so attracted to Anti-discrimination First Aid and Skills for Connecting with Differences, especially the skill of relaxing.
The Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential course introduces the international Earth Charter as the compass for our quest. The four directions are respect for life, ecological integrity, justice, and peace. As I explored the Earth Charter, I found it easy to put justice into practice during my interactions with others, but I felt so confused with the pillar about ecological integrity. I have to say that felt a little frustrated because besides recycling, I was not sure what else I could do. I thought of a friend who sometimes plants trees with her students and thought I should ask her to take me to one of those activities.
Then I arrived at a relaxing in nature activity in the Connecting With Differences module. I let Nature call me and guide my steps to a dear tree that had been my guardian for these past weeks in Canada. Things slowed down and I could see the little holes on the tree, all inviting me to see with curiosity and wonder. The tree was so awake, so vulnerable, so accepting. I appreciated the tree teaching me that life is change, that nature uses many costumes and in this moment she likes orange, black, yellow and green. I felt very awake, my skin much more sensitive to nature’s touch. Later, as my fellow participants shared their experiences in the course discussion forum, I enjoyed how we could take nature’s qualities as role models for being Inclusive Leaders. I imagined Inclusive Leaders as big trees giving a cozy shadow to beings that need to connect and be safe.
It gives me hope to imagine that we just need to relax to begin with. If we are able to relax, we will be able to observe what is going on inside and outside and make sense of it before we communicate. We need to relax in order to be compassionate. I intend to have this awareness when I meet new people or listen to people who think differently than me. I breath and relax, I ask myself what I might be needing. For example, I used to not understand different gender orientations than mine. Then, life gave amazing friends with different gender and sexual orientations who took the time to connect with me, who taught me about the journey of self-acceptance This gave me the opportunity to learn and understand and to see my own blockages, fears and unsolved parts in myself.
Another activity for Connecting With Differences was to describe ourselves as unique, interesting, multicultural, multi-faceted shining Diversity Stars. I could sense how it is hard for me to relax about my own uniqueness or self-image. I thought about how I have struggled with my appearance for much of my life. I became unsure and angry when I went to buy pants and they were too small for my hips. I struggled with friends who would talk about women’s appearance in ways I don’t enjoy. These experiences led me to work with my own insecurities and also to learn to speak up when I do not enjoy how people refer to my body or other people’s bodies. I try to be careful when I express my opinions about other people’s appearance too. Although I have come to own that I love my natural beauty, I noticed as I was writing about myself as a diversity star, that words didn’t come easily to my mind. There was a recurring thought telling me, “You are not interesting, or unique, or incredibly multifaceted.” I did enjoy the breathing exercise presented in the activity and as I noticed parts of my body that are unique, I could reconcile with some judgmental thoughts. By the end, of the activity, I felt like I was at the beginning of being a Diversity Star. I could connect with a sense of awareness and appreciation for myself and my unique journey in this life. I began to feel hopeful about being a diversity star, looking for other stars in my country and everywhere I go.
A third activity for Connecting with Differences is to thank people who have made a difference in our our lives. I am touched by the participants who made cards and wrote letters to their family members, including one mother who wrote a letter for her daughter! I want to have more ease and trust in the relationship with my Mom. For me sharing gratitude is an example of vulnerability, courage, and a true desire to connect about difficult things from a soulful place. I am grateful for my Grandmother she thought me a lot about nonviolence maybe without not knowing.
Now we are exploring Compassionate Communication, learning from Raj Gill and other compassionate heroes we have. This area of Inclusive Leadership is familiar to me and I am so happy to learn more within this new light of inclusion. Compassionate Communication is a consciousness that helps to have a better quality of relationships and to live with the intention of caring for ourselves and the world around us.
Empathy is a door to deep connection and humanness. I like to see it as a way to walk by the side of another person through his/her own path to self-discovery and being able to open the door to my inner world to know me better and gain clarity about who am I and how I want to live in this world. I value connection and trust. Listening is a way to belong, to build the bridges between me and other people’s lives. I value being able to listen to myself. My challenge is how to have enough energy to stand up for what I care about and at the same time care about the other. After watching the videos and reading Raj’s book, I intend to keep myself open and listening. My intention is to be aware when I feel tired or have an emotion that doesn’t allow me to listen. I will pause, breath and express that I am not been able to understand or listen fully. Intention comes first, this is my compass. Humour is part of the process. I will ask myself “What is my intention?” before I sleep and when I wake up. Intention is the spark that starts my engine. It gives me clarity, energy, direction. I love when I connect my intention to others’ intentions. I love it when we share an intention.
I am glad we can use technology wisely to learn, meet and work with great people. Online learning is a way to sustain Inclusive Leadership in the long term. These courses are like the glue that keeps us together.
Click here to explore Inclusive Leadership For our Global Village Online Courses