July 5, 2024

Using Our Professional Skills to Heal This Divisive World!

I was dying on stage!

What I was hoping for was that trap door… which would open beneath me, to free me from my misery.

It was 2004.
This was the annual conference of the Institute of Financial Planning. (Since swallowed up by the CISI.)

And this was my first presentation – as a coach that is – at a major industry conference.

Halfway through my presentation, men (sadly, there were noticeably few women) started walking out!

If they weren’t walking out, they were turning around to speak to people in the row behind.

Heck! Was I really THAT bad?

To be fair, I was a last-minute Fill In for Chris Barrow: a strident, charismatic, ‘Marmite’ speaker, even then. And the subject matter wasn’t my choice.

So… was I really THAT bad?

A few embarrassing phone calls later, I was given my answer by the Managing Director of a high-profile firm.

“You were reasonably good, David.
Until you mentioned that you were a Christian Minister!”

I was stunned!
I asked myself “What on earth have you walked into?”

20 years later… most of those men are long gone.

And the fear I briefly felt in 2004 only ever manifested itself in my head.
(Isn’t that the case with most of our fears?)

That fear has been replaced by the most gracious, supportive, loving, encouraging, inspiring, uplifting folk. In my business activities, they have elevated my perspective, my thinking, my behaviour.

They have blessed my life.

Why do I bring this up on the morning following a Landslide General Election?

I share this, because I’ve seen too much divisiveness in my life.
Politics. Religion. Business. Everywhere!

Too many entrenched positions and assertive bigotry.
Too much unwillingness to truly listen to each other.

Too much investment in our egos, and our view that we, obviously, must always be right.

Too much demonising those who see the world through a different lens.
A lens shaped by their life’s experience.

My commitment – at this stage in my life – is to use those skills learned in professional roles……
To LISTEN more compassionately.

To genuinely ‘see’ the wonder of the human being in front of me.
To try to walk in the shoes that life has given them to wear.
To not try to shape their thinking into a version of me.

And finally, where we still see things differently…
(because each of us has strong views, values and beliefs underpinning our approach to life)…

We can demonstrate this:

We can still respect – even love – each other.

We can do this, because we have learned that…

We CAN disagree
WITHOUT being disagreeable!