False Assumptions

I was puzzled by a client’s insistence that she didn’t already have what she needed to gain the accreditation she wanted … that her credentials were too old…that she needed more proof of her qualifications.

When I challenged her, she assured me “they” wouldn’t accept her training or experience. She was so sure she even challenged my challenge to her false (as it turned out to be) assumption.

I understand where she was coming from. Her surety was based on her previous experience with and understanding of the dominant culture.

But she was allowing her assumptions about what “they” would or wouldn’t permit stop her from taking the first step to achieving her dreams. We can no longer do that.

“You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity…that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.” ~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Inhale Facts, Exhale Assumptions…
Inhale Verification, Exhale Surety…
Inhale What We Want, Exhale What We Don’t Want…
Just Breathe


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Posture of Permission

“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” ~ Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, United States Navy.

It recently occurred to me that the concept of “begging forgiveness” versus “asking permission” (something I was exposed to in the Air Force) is a dominant culture posture. The idea of not waiting for anyone else’s approval to do the things required to succeed implies a freedom not usually intentionally afforded to people outside the dominant group.

The freedom to take a risk, to venture in different direction, to escape the control of a dominant group that demands compliance of non-members to rules it doesn’t follow, is a freedom we non-members sometimes don’t even realize we are missing…

“And those virtues preached but not practiced by the white world were merely another means of holding Negroes in subjection.” ~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Inhale Entitled to, Exhale Withholding of…
Inhale Implied Permission, Exhale Automatic Prohibition…
Inhale Freedom for All, Exhale Selective Control…
Just Breathe


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The Sunken Place

The Oscar nominated film “Get Out” would not have been made if its Oscar nominated director, Jordan Peele, had limited himself to what he thought he was allowed to do.

Peele believed that black people did not direct films because that was the reality he experienced and so assumed that activity was not available to him. His limiting beliefs influenced his decision to leave his “dream of being a director.” *

In his own words, Peele had internalized what the dominant culture told him was available to him as a black man in American. He internalized as reality that his dream was reserved primarily for white males.

Peele did what many non-dominant group members do … something else.

This is the “sunken place” of unrealized, unheard, unseen dreams.

Thankfully, like his film’s hero, he didn’t stay there.

“Please remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear.” ~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Inhale Limitless, Exhale Unrealized…
Inhale Authentic, Exhale Unheard…
Inhale Free, Exhale Unseen…
Just Breathe


* LA Times interview with Jen Yamato,  Jan 23, 2018.

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Dominant Impact

The permissions granted to white Americans but denied to America’s citizens of color have created a sense of entitlement among the former and often sucked the hope of life from the latter.

A European, middle-class, “Christian” culture dominating all social constructs in this country has given white males in particular the confidence to act on whatever good or evil impulse they have.

Black Americans, on the other hand, frequently withhold permissions from themselves and their children to take life-affirming actions because of a sometimes imagined but often real risk of life-altering consequences.

… the fear he hears in the voices of his elders is…another fear, a fear that the child, in challenging the white world’s assumptions, was putting himself in the path of destruction.” ~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Inhale Integration, Exhale Assimilation…
Inhale Acculturation, Exhale Compliance…
Inhale Freedom, Exhale Control…
Just Breathe


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Capacity for Empathy

A friend expressed sadness over #45’s reaction to the latest school shooting, wishing desperately that “just once” there would be a more presidential response. I think he was looking for some demonstrated empathy.

But empathy requires self-awareness and regard for the feelings of others, qualities that seems to elude the current occupant of the White House, who needed a reminder to listen during a listening session with survivors. I don’t think he is capable of responding in any other than the way he always responds…by somehow making this tragedy about him.

AFP OUT U.S. President Donald Trump holds a listening session with students, parents and teachers in the State Dining Room at the White House February 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is hosting the session in the wake of last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and teachers dead.

“A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention to the person in pain.” ~ Daniel Goleman

Inhale Empathy, Exhale Apathy…
Inhale Compassion, Exhale Indifference…
Inhale Connection, Exhale Detachment…
Just Breathe


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A leader with less leadership capability is going to attract lesser leaders. That’s because more capable leaders aren’t going to subject themselves to someone they don’t respect as a leader.

Leadership guru John Maxwell calls this the Law of Respect and we’re seeing the truth of this axiom as the lessor leaders of our nominally functional national government succumb to scandal after scandal.

“When people respect you as a person, they admire you. When they respect you as a friend, they love you. When they respect you as a leader, they follow you.” ~ John Maxwell

Inhale Respect, Exhale Tolerate…
Inhale Respect, Exhale Back Scratch…
Inhale Respect, Exhale Kowtow…
Just Breathe…


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As a young Air Force officer reading and re-writing hundreds of performance reports, I discovered that my “helpful improvements” to said reports were de-motivating my non-commissioned officers (NCOs), tasked with evaluating their subordinates.

One trusted NCO revealed the reasoning of some while explaining why the reports coming to me had not improved: “Why spend a lot of effort if the officer in charge (ME) was just going to change the words?”


So I vowed to make NO changes to grammatically correct reports that accurately reflected the performance being evaluated; no “happy” to “glad”, no “lasting” to “enduring”… no changes that dismissed the effort of the writer because of my personal preference.

As difficult as that was sometimes, I worked hard to keep my word.

Inhale Motivate, Exhale De-Motivate…
Inhale Motivate, Exhale Discourage…
Inhale Motivate, Exhale De-Incentivize…
Just Breathe


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The Art of Delegation

Delegation is a difficult but necessary concept for the sustainability of any organization. The leader that can delegate effectively by gradually increasing the amount of stretching required to complete a task, without micromanaging, gives his team members confidence and gains commitment.

“The leader who has to touch everything, limits the growth of his organization with his own two hands…” ~ Bishop T.D. Jakes

Inhale Delegation, Exhale Distrust…
Inhale Confident, Exhale Micromanaged…
Inhale Committed, Exhale Disengaged…
Just Breathe


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Martyr Syndrome

Have you ever watched someone on your team take over a project and then complain about having to do it all?

Here’s the thing about doing it all, all the time: others will let you take the burden and won’t hesitate to take some of the credit. So if you don’t want to do it, DON’T!

“The martyr operates on the assumption that he or she knows best and has THE answer rather than an answer.” ~ David Emerald, cofounder of the Bainbridge Leadership Center.

Inhale Taking Responsibility, Exhale Taking Over…
Inhale Ownership, Exhale Martyrdom…
Inhale Inspire, Exhale De-incentivize …
Just Breathe


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Just the Facts…

The freedom to report the positive AND negative behavior of American leadership is the constitutional responsibility of a free American press. This idea that this “4th estate” is no longer supposed to identify behavior that is considered detrimental to our Democracy is dangerous.

“Freedom of the press is ours to save, not Trump’s to burn.” ~ Bruce D. Brown, America is No Longer the Standard Bearer for a Free Press

Inhale Reality, Exhale Illusion…
Inhale Responsible, Exhale Derelict…
Inhale Truth, Exhale Delusion…
Just Breathe


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