One of the gifts of practicing coaching skills in my daily life is the ability to stay engaged when I enter a spontaneous highly triggering conversation. Sometimes, of course, I choose to walk away. Other times, it feels important to make the space to cultivate the relationship and remember everyone counts. This situation took all my courage and felt like a big risk. Read on with an open mind and heart.

An unbidden opportunity for a courageous conversation on racism and white supremacy arose with my neighbor in Minneapolis a few months after the murder of George Floyd. She began by asking me if I am for the police or for people in brown or black bodies. What kind of a question is that? I was startled. 

As are many people, I am keenly aware of the propaganda being fed through various sources locally, nationally, and globally encouraging people to polarize, divide, and focus on what you are against or hate. Why are people buying into such a radicalized way of thinking and behaving?

This conversation was an opportunity to engage with my neighbor and learn more about her point of view as a white privileged woman. Could I do it?

As a transformational coach, I have been trained in and practice daily deep listening, holding positive regard for another, asking powerful questions, remaining curious and open-minded, and validating another’s perspective. My clients and I discuss the programming and conditioning that reinforces limiting and false beliefs. We explore how to live an empowered authentic life, live in our sovereignty. Yet, I have close family members who live in brown and black bodies. Racism is personal, one that can trigger judgment and rage in me. Could I take the risk to learn more and stay engaged?

Through this mostly one-sided conversation where I remained the active listener, I learned that she is genuinely afraid that if everyone had equal rights and opportunities, her entitled way of life would be threatened. I asked a few challenging questions. Her fear was so deeply embedded in the belief that only through oppression and excessive resources could she thrive and even survive. It was shocking. The conversation did not last very long. It put me in a high-stress response, and it took me several days for my nervous system to rebalance and to recover. 

The next time I saw her she thanked me for the conversation. I was stunned. She had talked to a black friend of hers who had previously called her out several times on racist comments which she had dismissed. She was now ready to consider another person’s experience. It was a small brave act on my part to take the risk and stand my ground that everyone counts. 

My resolve to be a part of the change I want to see in the world increased. Another risk I took is writing a book as a guide, inviting each of you to participate with intention, co-creating the emerging paradigms and stories about who we are becoming. It is an invitation for you to contribute to building a world that is abundant and sustainable for all. Having courageous risky conversations is part of embodying and integrating sovereignty into our daily lives. Will you join me?

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