I Have Things to Say

By: Rick Fredericks
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[Today’s Tuesday Reading is by Rick Fredericks, MOR Associates Program Leader and Leadership Coach.  Rick may be reached at rick@morassociates.com]
 
I have things to say and I am not alone.
 
To be human is to desire inclusion. We are united by shared stories and ideals. Our social tapestries are woven by voice, customs, and shared values. Regrettably, we may take it all for granted.
 
I was a selective mute as a child. This was defined as an anxiety disorder. At home and in school, there was not a feeling of safety. Yet rich language existed in my head. Oddly enough, I am going mute again. I have ALS. This disease is a thief of motor function and speech. Once again, the language exists in my head without an easy pathway for expression.
 
If nothing else, ALS gives the gift of reflection. For this I am grateful. I am also grateful for my high perch, overlooking a forested hillside and swift river. The sound of wind in spruce trees and flowing water is ever-present. There is also an embracing circle of friends, including the MOR Community. To this community I have this message.
 
Be mindful of those around you. Make it a practice to self-assess and ask yourself, “am I excluding others”? With an honest examination, the answer will probably be “yes.” Perhaps it is the quiet people on your team who don't speak up. Others may be silent adversaries in unresolved conflicts. Perhaps you harbor unconscious biases. Or you’re trapped in your own expertise and think no ideas are better than your own. For any number of reasons, you are excluding others. Give yourself some credit, this is likely not your intent. But impact trumps intent. You are not off the hook.
 
I feel self-righteous offering these viewpoints and enter a mea culpa. I spent a number of years over-speaking or over-riding others. My ideas were supported by a track record of getting things done. In a corporate world of competition, I was a winner. There was little regard for the people bobbing in my wake. I lived in my own echo chamber, only hearing confirming praises.
 
In 1993, I attended a coaching workshop led by Brian McDonald.  In this workshop, we learned that dialog was more important than debate. Winning was not as important as partnering. On this stage, language mattered. The simple phrase, “it seems to me…” replaced “you are so full of …”. This was a great awakening. Instead of over-ruling, I was including. This was a game changer and relaunched my career in a very different direction.
 
Fast-forward a few decades. As voice dwindles and life's runway gets shorter, I feel blessed. My great friend, Brian, offered a membership in the remarkable MOR Community. This is a homeland where I feel valued and included even as disease over-rides capability. It is a forever ticket.
 
My work-on-self continues. I’m still an imperfect practitioner of inclusion. The mantra is, “progress, not perfection”. I know that inclusion is an act liberation. When all contributions are welcomed, communities grow. And inclusion enables voice, perhaps the greatest gift of all.

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