Close your eyes and think for 30 seconds.
What are you values?
Name your top five.
Integrity? Authenticity, trust, honesty, truth, love, community, empathy, endurance, responsibility, respect, communication, courage, freedom, discipline, commitment, friendship, flexibility, creativity, ambition, togetherness, cooperation, support? Anything else?
Now think of your everyday life.
Can you think of how you live your values? How do they reflect and influence your everyday life?
Values don’t seem to be something we think of consciously when we have breakfast in the morning, do they? Yet, they are the underlying base for our everyday most mundane decisions.
Let’s do one more exercise. Go and find a mirror.
Look at yourself and notice what you are wearing today.
Does your outfit communicate your values? How?
Are you wearing black pants, dark boots and colourful blouse with ruffles? And are you wearing it even though ruffles are not “your thing”? Are you wearing it because you have a friend who loves you and she gave you this shirt? And you are wearing it because you realised that your beloved friend was right, that it suits you amazingly and it says something profound about you? Or are you wearing everything beige because you believe beige is a colour of peace and you are on a quest for peace in this world? Are you wearing earrings someone brought from latin America for you and you love their colour and how they are unique?
Values are with us, values are in us, values around us – every second of the day… And it is really interesting and very important to think about values and consider how our they can help us navigate.
And because I was really interested in this, I allowed myself the luxury to live my value of “lifelong learning” and I attended Toronto Change Days conference on “Living Values”. And it was quite an experience!
Toronto Change Days is not a Montessori event. It is a conference for change facilitators, people from organisational management and coaches. And trust me, it is a “conference experience redefined”!
I knew it was going to be a challenge. Change management people are a completely different social group and it is a clan of people who speak a different language. The event took place in Canada, so added to that, we came to a very different culture. And of course we did all of this in English and with a super severe jetlag. If you can picture a piece of bacon frying on a very hot pan, that is how fried my brain felt throughout the whole event.
The very first workshop was on equity, diversity and inclusion. For me, this was as if they threw me, a non swimmer, into water, and said, “swim!”
The conference opened with a very powerful statement:
“We wish to acknowledge and honour the land and place that we gather on this evening. For thousands of years, since the last Ice age ended, many Indigenous peoples have walked this land. It has been the traditional home of many Indigenous nations including Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Anishnawbee and in recent history, the Mississauga of the Credit. Today this meeting place is still home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to live, work and play on this land.”
Later, this introduction was followed by the Ritual of Smudging.
Smudging is a cultural ceremony practiced by the Indigenous People in Canada and other parts of the world for different purposes. At the conference it was used as a spiritual ceremony. We burned sacred medicines and the leader of the Smudge Ritual prayed. We honoured our ancestors, the land we walk on, the light that shines on us, the moon and the movement and the gentleness it represents, and also water. We remembered who we are and what is the conference site we were in. We reminded ourselves of the fire we brought with us in our hearts and pledged that we are here to treat each other and the world with respect. We also offered each other a song which we sang and we acknowledged that whatever and whomever we will touch, we will touch them with our heart, mind and soul.
If this was the only thing that I experienced at the conference, I could go right back home and reflect on this for months.
The workshop itself used the well known metaphor of the iceberg. We are icebergs.
And with every single one of us, it is the same. Only a little from the iceberg shows above the waterline.
We think “we see what we see”. But there is so much going on underneath the surface, under water. There is so much going on inside, that does not show on the outside. There are so many currents under the water too. If we really want to get to know someone, we need to understand the upper part. But we also need to be aware of the large part below.
If we do not remember this, relationships and communication break down.
Knowing about the iceberg, I reflect on the definition of inclusion. True inclusion happens when we all can be part of our society or our group, fully and wholly, in who we are. And we all are welcome. And not just that. Being welcome is not enough.
When we all kinds of people ARE in the room in the end, they need to be truly included. Only when they are truly included, they can equally engage. And when we have true engagement, we can have a true community.
As someone said at the conference: “It is “a building thing.”
And it is based on our values.
What did I take from this for myself? How can I help true inclusion in this world?
I need to think about how I behave in everyday situations. I am sure I need to stay curious and I need to learn to truly listen.
I need to look at the world with “a 360 perspective”. This means I need to stay open at all times.
I shall not judge.
I need to be able to communicate, understand my own assumptions and know my dead angles.
And I need to develop my ability to encourage everyone around me to contribute.
To inspire you to do more thinking about this, watch this moving video.
“Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.” – Parker Palmer
With much love to you all.