May 19, 2017
How easy or difficult is it for you to trust? Share your thoughts, feelings, and insights about this below.
May 19, 2017
How easy or difficult is it for you to trust? Share your thoughts, feelings, and insights about this below.
November 16, 2016
Like so many people here in the United State and around the world, I’ve had a very strong reaction to our election. Given the pre-election polls, I was shocked by the outcome, and given how I voted, I was disappointed by it. As I’ve ridden the roller coaster of intense emotions over the past week and listened to reactions, read articles, and talked with people in my life – I’ve been struck by the profound level of division and disconnection in our society, which actually concerns me as much as almost anything else right now.
Elections often get nasty and we tend to hold our political views passionately. However, as a student of American politics (my degree from college is in American Studies) who has followed campaigns pretty closely for most of my adult life, this one has been particularly negative and divisive. And, with issues of race, gender, and class being so prominent in the debate, it took on even more intensity and fear than I’ve ever seen or experienced.
In response to some of my feelings and insights about the election – specifically related to my concerns about the treatment of women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community, I wrote an “open letter to my fellow straight white men” last week and posted it on social media. It felt both important and scary for me to write this piece and share it.
The feedback has been mixed, but enlightening – lots of comments of support, as well as many comments of disagreement. More than disagreeing with me, however, I’ve received a number of personal attacks – people calling me horrible names (especially onTwitter), questioning my manhood and intelligence, and more.
I realize that people’s emotions are running hot right now, but I wasn’t quite prepared for this reaction. However, I think this is important to pay attention to on a few levels. After my initial shock and stopping myself from reacting back in anger, I’ve read through all of the comments and have been sitting with my feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, defensiveness, fear, and more. When we feel attacked, it’s easier to either fight back or run away…but I think it’s even more important to lean in, get curious, and be willing to engage.
Engaging in dialogue or debate about important issues online is tricky and often unproductive – I rarely do it. I also don’t often get intense negative reactions to the things I write and say – both because of the general topics I focus on and also because of the size and nature of the audience with whom I’m communicating.
One of the main reasons I don’t usually write about or talk about politics, as well as issues of race, gender, class, oppression, and/or anything else that may be considered “controversial,” is because I don’t want to create more division – there is so much of this in our culture as it is. My work, as well as my overall approach to life, is focused on inclusiveness as much as possible. I also, quite frankly, don’t really like being called names, attacked, or criticized – I’m a pretty sensitive person, so throughout my life and with my work, I have chosen to stay away from things and topics that might open me up to harsh judgments from others.
This election outcome and the feelings and reactions of the past week have pointed out a few things to me about this. First of all, for a variety of reasons, I think it’s important for me (and many of us) to be willing get past our fears and talk about these important topics, even and especially if they’re uncomfortable. Second of all, this is hard and most of us, myself included, aren’t that skilled, experienced or comfortable doing it – especially with the intensity of the emotions and the situation right now. We also often have blind spots and insecurities – some of which we’re aware of, some of which we aren’t. And, third of all, there is a lot of anger, fear, and separation in our country and our world right now. I’m not sure I was as fully aware of it before the election as I am now. It’s there and although the intensity of this past week may dissipate a bit as we move into the holiday season, the underlying issues and disconnections don’t seem to be going away on their own or anytime soon.
My primary question to myself right now is: How can we lean in and engage with one another about these important issues in an authentic and productive way? The challenge I’m sitting with personally at the moment is how to speak up for what I believe to be true and important, and at the same time do so in a way that brings me closer to those who may disagree with me?
My main questions to all of us are: How can we speak our minds and keep our hearts open? How can we stand up for those we believe are being discriminated against, and not discriminate against others in the process? How can we engage in big, complex problems, and come up with solutions (not just argue and make things worse)? How can we be both fierce and kind at the same time? How can we see and take responsibility for our own bias and arrogance, and actually listen to one another with understanding?
I’m not sure there are easy answers to any of these questions, but it feels as important as ever to be asking them right now. I do believe strongly that if we’re willing to ask and answer these questions, and if we have the courage to engage with each other in a productive way, it’s going to take an enormous amount of authenticity by all of us.
As I’ve learned over the past many years studying human behavior and relationships, and specifically inquiring into the nature of authenticity, it’s much easier said than done to be authentic. Authenticity is about having the courage to be honest, first and foremost. But, it’s also about having the self-awareness to remove our self-righteousness and the confidence to embrace vulnerability. Honesty, without self-righteousness, and with vulnerability is what true authenticity is all about.
Dr. Martin Luther King said “We have no morally persuasive power with those who can feel our underlying contempt for them.”
What’s tricky about this for most of us is that when we’re being self-righteous, we don’t think we’re being self-righteous, we think we’re RIGHT. Self-righteousness fundamentally separates us from one another. If I’m “right” about something and you don’t agree with me, that makes you “wrong,” and now we have a wall between us. The natural human response to self-righteousness is defensiveness.
On the other hand, when we have the courage and confidence to be vulnerable, we let down our guard and share what’s true and real within us. The natural human response to vulnerability is empathy. Empathy brings us together and connects us with one another. It also reminds us that we’re more alike than we are different – even when we disagree.
As hard as it may be for some of us right now, it seems to me that what we need is more empathy, understanding, and compassion for one another as human beings. Some of us are mortified by the election results, some of us are thrilled. I think that most of us are some version of scared – this is a change and a big change. Like with any change, we don’t know what will happen and how it will turn out. Whether we think it’s likely to be terrible, move our country in the wrong direction, and have a negative impact on us and those we love, or we think it is going to be wonderful, move our country in the right direction, and have a positive impact on us and those we love, we simply have no way of knowing at this moment.
What we do know for sure, is that we can’t really do too much without each other. In other words, WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!
How are you feeling about the election? What can you do? How can we work together and come together after all of this? Share your thoughts, feelings, and insights about this below.
November 14, 2016
It’s time for us to step up straight white men! This campaign and this election have exposed many issues in our country and our world…issues that have been there for a very long time, and although we’ve made progress on them through the years, it’s time for real change and we’re a big part of that.
Being a straight white man, although it comes with an enormous amount of privilege – some of which we’re aware of and much we simply take for granted, can be challenging and painful in certain ways that we rarely talk about. I have spent much of my life feeling (or avoiding) the shame of what white men have done (and are still doing) to women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and those less privileged.
We often don’t like to acknowledge this because it feels awful, there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it, and it’s an incredibly painful and powerless experience. It’s also scary, uncomfortable, and vulnerable to talk about racism, sexism, homophobia, and oppression of any kind – especially as a straight white man. We usually aren’t as aware of it as those who are directly impacted and even when we are, we worry that we shouldn’t talk about these things because we may hurt, upset, or offend people…or be judged, misunderstood, shamed, or attacked…called a racist, sexist, or homophobe ourselves. So, we choose to stay oblivious, to avoid it, or just sit on our hands, which is safer and easier.
Many of us have dealt with our own challenges and obstacles in life – just because we’re white, straight, and male, doesn’t mean we were born with a silver spoon in our mouth, haven’t worked hard, don’t deal with our own issues, or don’t deserve any of the success or opportunity we may have experienced. And, yes, some of us have dealt with various forms of “reverse racism” or “reverse sexism” both personally and professionally. We also like to point to the fact that much progress has been made for women, people of color, and other minorities in our culture, which is true. Or we see, hear, and read about horrible acts of hate or abuse and say to ourselves (or others), “I would never do that…I’m one of the good guys.”
However, it’s important for us to both acknowledge the privilege and power we have as straight white men and also the responsibility. The vast majority of us are not abusing women, sexually assaulting them, treating them as objects, or consciously trying to hold them back. We’re also not overtly racist or homophobic – treating people of color or gay people in rude, cruel, and oppressive ways.
Yet, these things continue to exist in our culture all over the place – and there is so much pain, suffering, fear, and trauma associated with this for so many people in our world right now. Women are being abused, assaulted, and raped all the time – right in our communities and on college campuses. Plus, just about every woman we know has been impacted directly by sexism and even sexual assault – just ask them, as awkward as that may be to bring up. Every person of color and gay person we know has dealt with racism or homophobia in their lives – in many cases in a traumatic way. Unarmed black men are dying in the streets. Muslims are being targeted and taunted. Kids are being bullied in school for being “different.” Hatred, cruelty, and oppression are taking place in both big and small ways – even if we don’t see it in our own lives or families regularly.
We just experienced a Presidential campaign and election that was filled with overt and covert racism, sexism, and hatred. I choose to believe that the vast majority of the people who voted for Donald Trump are not racist, sexist, and homophobic. However, his campaign, his rhetoric, and his election have given a sense of permission and “normalcy” to hatred, fear, and discrimination of minorities, immigrants, women, and other groups…and that is NOT okay.
As good, strong, kind, loving, compassionate, and powerful men who love our country, our significant others, our friends, and our children, we have an important role to play in this…even if we may not always see it or feel comfortable with it.
Every straight white man I know has been in situations where other straight white men around us were being overtly or covertly racist, sexist, or homophobic. While we may not have participated in it directly (although in some cases we have, especially when we were young and less conscious), we have often not done or said anything to stop it…or to at least make it clear that it’s not okay. We can no longer do this!
For better or worse, people listen to us in a particular way given our race, gender, and orientation. It may not be fair or justified (both positively and negatively), but it’s true. And even though it can be scary and uncomfortable, and some people might judge us, think we’re arrogant, insensitive, self-righteous, soft, over-sensitive, too PC, or worse, it’s time for us to step up, lean in, speak up, and do more to support the women and girls around us, and our brothers and sisters of color, everyone in the LGBTQ community, Muslims, immigrants, and any oppressed or under-represented group in our culture…i.e. everyone who is not white, not straight, and not male.
We also need to pay more attention, look, listen, and feel with as much awareness, compassion, and empathy as we can. We have to call out racism, sexism, and oppression when we see it – both personally and also in our organizations, institutions, and our society at large. This is not easy or comfortable, and isn’t usually encouraged or appreciated by those we may be calling out…but it’s essential. Sometimes we’re in a better, safer, and stronger position to call this out than the individuals or groups who are being discriminated against themselves.
This isn’t about liberal or conservative, Clinton supporter or Trump supporter, or even about our nation…it’s actually bigger than that…it’s about loving, caring for, and supporting our fellow human beings. We are brothers, sons, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, coaches, mentors, friends, and more. We are men…and at the core of our nature, we are here to provide and protect…that is our job and our responsibility, above and beyond whatever we do for a living.
And, as straight white men, we are in a unique and important position of privilege and power. We can influence change…we can stand up for kindness and compassion…and for those who need us to stand up with them or for them. We must! This moment in our history calls for our courage and strength…it’s not “someone else’s problem.” We’re all in this together…
With Love, Passion, and Courage,
September 8th, 2016
July 28, 2016
July 21, 2016
I have a brand new podcast that I’m really excited about…it’s called Bring Your Whole Self to Work. I’m working on a new book (with the same title) and as part of the research for this book, I decided to interview some of the most interesting business leaders and thought leaders I know – to learn from them about their own personal journeys and also how they operate as leaders.
The focuses of the conversations and the podcast are:
1) How can we have the courage to show up and bring all of who we are to the work that we do?
2) How can we create and/or influence the environment in which we work so that it’s conducive to authenticity, kindness, humanity, creativity, compassion, and appreciation (in addition to success)?
In the interviews I get real with my guests, and find out the truth behind their own stories – their ups, their downs, their insights, their challenges, their milestones, and more. I also talk to them about how they approach authenticity, teamwork, culture, success, leadership, and other important aspects of life and business.
These conversations are designed to give you specific insights for creating greater authenticity, courage, and fulfillment in your own life and career, as well as ideas for how you can create an environment around you at work where people get real, have each other’s backs, and have the courage to bring all of who they are.
The very first episode is called “The Whole Self is Everything with Chip Conley.” I’m so excited that Chip decided to join me for this first show. He’s a business leader, a thought leader, and a person I respect and admire a great deal. At 26, he started Joie de Vivre – which became the second largest boutique hotel company in the United States. He’s the author of four books and after selling Joie de Vivre in 2010, he has worked as a mentor to the founders of Airbnb and a leader within the company as they’ve grown exponentially over the past few years. He is a true renaissance man of life, business, personal growth, culture, and more.
In this episode Chip talks about his fascinating journey. He also shares some great tips for how to both show up as authentically as possible at work, as well as some of the things he did in building such a strong culture at Joie de Vivre. They were voted the second best place to work in the San Francisco Bay Area (right behind Google).
I hope you enjoy this first episode and my conversation with Chip. I’ve been having so much fun with this podcast – we’ve already recorded a handful of episodes and have some great interviews lined up. I can’t wait to share them with you each week and I hope you will be as inspired, enlightened, and stimulated by these discussions as I am. My intention is that this podcast is a benefit to you and those around you.
You can check out this first episode and the podcast on iTunes or visit our new podcast page on my website, where you can read more about each episode and guest, as well as link to any of the other podcast platforms you may like to use.
Let me know your thoughts about the show on my blog or on Facebook. Feel free to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (or your favorite podcasting platform), leave a review, and share it with others you think might benefit from it.
July 7, 2016
How can you embrace the gift of your life right now? What support do you need to let go of what holds you back from doing this fully? Feel free to share your thoughts, insights, or any questions you have below.
November 19, 2015
My wife Michelle read the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and has transformed our house over the past few months. I’ve enjoyed and appreciated all that she has shared with me about the book, and especially all that she has done to de-clutter and tidy up. However, until this past weekend, I hadn’t really engaged in the process much myself. But, starting with my clothes and then moving onto my books, I had a transformational experience over the past few days going through everything and letting go of a LOT.
My understanding of the basic premise of the book and the process is to touch everything in your house and ask yourself the question, “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is yes, keep it and put is back (in an organized way), but if the answer is no, thank it and let it go. While this is a fairly simple concept, it’s not all that easy.
In this video, I talk a bit about some of my challenges with letting go, as well as what we can do to let go of not just things, but thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs that may be holding us back…thus creating space for new things (as well as thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and more) to emerge.
What are you willing to let go of? What support do you need to let go? Feel free to share your thoughts, insights, or any questions you have below.
October 29, 2015
I love this simple, yet powerful distinction. If we can take good care of ourselves on a basic, physical level, not only are we healthier, but we become more open, receptive, creative, and powerful.
How are you doing taking care of your animal? What makes this challenging for you? What works best for you? Feel free to share your thoughts, insights, or any questions you have below.
September 17, 2015
It has been humbling to come to this realization about myself in the past few years. However, it has also been incredibly liberating to see this pattern and to ask myself the question, “What would it be like to honor my real emotions and to live my life knowing that what I want and feel is just as important as anyone else?”
Honoring our emotions isn’t about being self absorbed, arrogant, or better than anyone – it’s really about being true to ourselves, honest with how we feel and what we want, and willing to engage in authentic conversations with other people – even, and especially, when we don’t feel or want the same things that they do.
So why can it be so challenging for us to honor our own emotions? Some of the primary reasons for this are:
Here are a few things you can do to enhance your capacity to honor your own emotions:
What do you do honor your emotions in a healthy way? What makes this challenging for you? Feel free to share your thoughts, insights, or any questions you have below.