Intention

I start any workshop I do by asking the participants to think of their intention for our time together. I remind them we are co-creating the experience we’re about to have…and if they want, expect and intend for our experience to be great, it probably will be.

Because it doesn’t matter how flawlessly my words flow, how important the topic or how we came to be in the same space, what they take from the workshop is as a much a function of their preparedness as mine.

“But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.” Luke 8: 15, The Message

Inhale Intention, Exhale Inattention…
Inhale Consciousness, Exhale Carelessness…
Inhale Deliberation, Exhale Disregard…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

The Choice is Yours…

Last spring, in the face of virulent racism in this country, I started rereading Daniel Goldhagen’s provocative bestseller, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Published almost 20 years ago, it explores how ordinary Germans “came to be such potential willing mass killers and how the Nazi regime tapped this disastrous potentiality.”

Goldhagen argues convincingly that the German’s thoroughly anti-Semitic attitude, which led to anti-Jewish measures, legislation, persecution and finally, incarceration and death in concentration camps, had grown unabated for hundreds of years. Anti-Semitism did “not appear, disappear, then reappear in [German] society”; it was always present.” The Nazi’s simply tapped into the hate.

The parallels to the United States’ unique brand of racism are pretty obvious. There is no evidence the beliefs, which allowed, accepted, and condoned the theft of this country from its original inhabitants and the theft and enslavement of peoples from another continent have ever fundamentally changed.

It’s why the politics of fear and division offered by our 45th president have been so successful.

Last weekend, once again we saw the results of extreme and persistent prejudice when ordinary Americans brutally implemented an illogical, illegal and immoral immigration order. The order, which, apparently, was not reviewed by other government agencies, did not come with instructions for the people responsible for its enforcement.

FirstTheyComeAnd so a Somali women traveling with two small children with U.S. passports was threatened, harassed, handcuffed while officials tried to coerce her into signing papers that would send her out of the country. During the 18 hours she and her children were detained, they were not fed or allowed to get food.

I’m sure those officials will defend their actions saying they had no choice. But they did…and they chose to act with no compassion.

This is how ordinary people become accomplices to atrocities.

In the days to come, Americans will have ample opportunities to choose compassion over unquestioning compliance…what will you choose?

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

We’re All We Got

Everyday there seems to be a new executive action designed to divide, separate and isolate Americans from each other and from a suffering world. While our reality president is focused on ratings, I’m focusing on the Americans offering their talents, their time, their treasure…their love to those who need it most.

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.” 1 John 4: 19, The Message

Inhale Humanity, Exhale Isolation…
Inhale Kindness, Exhale Indifference…
Inhale Connection, Exhale Division…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#Love

Deeply Loved

If only we could see ourselves as God sees us, innocent and blameless, we would stop beating ourselves up, stop projecting our shame onto others, stop hiding in fear.

We could be fearlessly vulnerable from a place rooted in conviction and connection and fearlessly loving from the knowledge that we are deeply loved…

We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” ~ Brené Brown

Inhale Innocence, Exhale Shame…
Inhale Blamelessness, Exhale Blame…
Inhale Love, Exhale Fear…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

Image from Pixabay

Unconditional Love

If God is Love, and He is, and fear is the opposite of love, and it is, then isn’t fear ungodly?

“If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.”  1 John 4:20-21 The Message

Inhale Love, Exhale Conditions…
Inhale Love, Exhale Constrictions…
Inhale Love, Exhale Contradictions…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe

Born to Love

What are we so afraid of? Why is it so hard to see other humans as human? How does our fear impact our humanity?

Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment— or unlearning— of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.“~ Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love.

Inhale Love, Exhale Suspicion…
Inhale Love, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Love, Exhale Segregation…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

Essential Love

This week I’m trying to focus on the love….

Love is the essential existential fact. It is our ultimate reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.” ~ Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love.

Inhale Love, Exhale Fear…
Inhale Life, Exhale Fear…
Inhale God, Exhale Fear…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

American Experiment: What are YOU Doing?

People use double entendre to describe a phrase open to multiple interpretations, one of which is usually indecent. After seeing the Oscar nominated “Hidden Figures”, I realized the title has a number of meanings: the mathematics that made manned space flight possible;
the unacknowledged black women who actually crunched the numbers; and the fact that in segregated Virginia, these women were literally hidden from view, NASA’s dirty little secret.

The movie was a great reminder that even in the face of what must have felt like crippling oppression, I’m descended from people who overcame.

It also reminded me that there are many ways to overcome an unjust, oppressive system. One scene in particular really drove that point home.

After realizing the impending installation of an IBM computer could make her job obsolete, Dorothy Vaughan, played by Octavia Spencer, decides to learn how to program the computer. In the scene, Dorothy is on her way to the segregated (white) local library to get what she can find about the computer, when she encounters a group protesting the lack of civil rights for people of color. As she hurries her two children past the protesters, she says something to the effect of “That’s not what we do”. Dorothy’s protest was taking the book on Fortran that the librarian refused to let her check out.

She used it to teach herself, as well as her black female team how to program the brand new IBM mainframe, and when NASA needed a larger team to run the computers, her team was ready.

She didn’t join the protesters marching and holding signs yet her actions made a huge difference in the lives of black families in her community.

This Saturday while Chicagoans joined Americans all over the world protesting the illegal and immoral immigration ban of Muslims who are in this country legally, AeroStar Avion Institute Founder and CEO Tammera Holmes was hosting STEMtastic Saturday at the Harold Washington Cultural Center. Tammera’s activism is prepping young people of color to fill projected skill shortages in the aviation industry.

It may not look like what others are doing, but she is making and will make a huge difference in the lives of Chicagoans. Because in addition to an American justice system that is truly blind to race, in addition to an American education system that sees the potential in all children, Americans of all races need real opportunities to support themselves and their families. That is what Tammera is providing.

This weekend, we saw all hands on deck as activists, politicians, lawyers, judges, etc. used their talents and skills to fight an action many perceive as un-American. I’m celebrating them, their contributions and focusing on what I can do to protect our fragile democracy.

What are you doing to make a difference?

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

American Experiment: Can You Hear Me Now…?

I get it.

You tried to warn us.

You heard the outright lies…suspected Russian ties…watched the “Alt-right” rise…

You were unsettled. And you tried to warn us.

I saw it too. The “blacklash” that always comes after perceived progress by people of color in this country…

The videoed violence inflicted on bodies of the marginalized…black, brown, female, disabled…

The attack on clean water sources by energy companies intent on “digging up death” instead of investing in clean energy.

The virulent, relentless American brand of racism so reminiscent of the deep anti-Semitism that existed in pre-Nazi Germany.

I found a 40-year old copy of the George Orwell book “1984” on a visit home, started re-reading it and wondered, “Are we already there?”

The novel “1984”, portrays a dictatorship that imposes its own facts.

Now, of course, many Americans are feeling a sense of alarm.

Sales of “1984” have increased “almost 10,000 percent since the inauguration,” most notably when Kellyanne Conway appeared on Meet the Press and introduced the phrase “alternative facts”.

Actually, “alternative facts” is a very “1984” phrase, where “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.”

I suspect if the Women’s Marches that took place all over the world right after our inauguration were to happen this weekend, there would be double the participation, upwards of 5 to 6 million.

And now you’re wondering “Why couldn’t you hear and heed the warning?” and “Where were all these marchers when…” and you want to know, “Are you going to be here for the long haul?”

I get your frustration. I understand your anger. I feel your sense of betrayal.

But the majority of Americans did not vote for the person occupying the office of POTUS. Whoever can hear now, is here NOW…can space be made for the newly conscious?

And if you’ve just been awakened, educate yourself, don’t make this about yourself and try to stay engaged.

It’s not a time for cynicism, or finger pointing or embarrassment. It’s a time for Americans to come together and protect our fragile democracy. I pray it’s not too late…

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

When Size Matters

I was blessed to be a part of the Women’s March in our nation’s capital yesterday. I was blown away by the organization, the diversity of the woman clamoring to speak, and the celebrities who bared their souls in solidarity.

A passionate Ashley Judd embodied “Nasty Woman,” a searing piece written by Tennessee teen Nina Donovan.

Poignant comments from 6-year-old immigration activist Sophie Cruz almost made me ugly cry.

Women lawmakers both on the stage and spotted in the audience served as encouraging models of empowerment!

At the airport, on the Metro, at an Alexandria VA Starbucks the morning after, I encountered women of all ages and races (and a few men) who were inspired by what happened. We couldn’t get over the number of people marching in solidarity all over the world.

In fact, the size of the D.C. crowd overwhelmed the original rally site, spilling out past the planned parade route and leaving no room to actually march. Peaceful protestors were not deterred, and impromptu marches, to include one up Pennsylvania to the White House, took place throughout the late afternoon.

Crowd scientists have estimated the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. had at least 500K participants, three times more people than the inauguration the day before.

This is not likely to please the newly installed U.S. President and his surrogates who seem obsessed with refuting the small size of the crowds attending the inauguration ceremony and parade.

They’ve told us what we saw was not what we saw, that in fact, the audience for the inauguration “was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period – both in person and around the globe.” This is a lie.

The size of the crowds at both the inauguration and the Women’s March is reflective of the lack of popularity of the most unpopular president to take office in at least four decades. Instead of a conciliatory message to those who did not support him, Donald Trump’s ominous words and actions have created dissonance in America.

This is not leadership.

To be an effective leader, it’s important to realize the size of the crowd cheering you on is less important than the vastness of your vision to impact the world,
the intensity of your passion to excite and attract followers,
the enormity of your purpose to serve something bigger yourself,
the immensity of your intention so serve someone other than yourself,
the capacity of your heart to embrace those with a different perspective,
and the extension of your compassion to others.

Measure what is important to lead effectively.

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked