Today we celebrate the life, leadership, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. What will you do to honor the dream? More importantly, what are you doing to continue to drive the dream?
Sometimes when we look at the issues in our world, the issues seem bigger than what we as individuals can take on. I suspect that’s a lot of what MLK felt. But that did not stop him from using his voice, from calling out injustices, from putting truth into the light, and from putting his own life on the line.
All of us share the responsibility to continue the dream; to make our world more inclusive. Today is a really good day to pause and reflect on what kinds of things you are willing to do to contribute to a more inclusive world. Because it’s ALWAYS about willingness, and it always starts with you.
- Look at your own life both personally and professionally. Does everyone look like you? Same race, same religious beliefs? If so, this is a place to begin to be mindful about expanding your circle, to learn more about others, and to listen to understand. If you are managing a team, again what diversity do you see? Make a concerted effort to require diversity in your candidate slates. ALL of the studies show that diverse teams make the best teams as far as innovation and delivery of results.
- Be mindful of the language you use. I am often amazed at the language used to describe a particular race, gender, or religion. Examine your own bias, conscious and unconscious. Be especially careful of the way you utilize language around kids. They take everything in and ultimately internalize the language you’re teaching them. If you were brought up in a home where bias was shown against a particular race, religion, gender, this is the time to break that behavior.
- Pay attention. In general, pay more attention to what’s happening on a daily basis in your life. Live awake. Are there opportunities for you to extend love and compassion in the everyday occurrences of your own existence? My guess is yes.
- Seek opportunities to learn from those who are different, and when possible, share those experiences with your kids. We’re really so much more similar than we are different. We fear others who look different than we do, or who think differently than we do. But when we break it down, we realize we’re all aspiring for a better life for our kids, peace, understanding, kindness, and compassion.
- Do Something! Start. Right where you are. Do SOMETHING. Do not let this day be yet another passing square on a turning calendar. Your kids are off today. Take the time to help them to understand the “bigness” of what this man took on and to importance of continuing the dream. Ask them what they might do in their classrooms, on their playgrounds, in the locker room. Help your kids to Stand Up. Stand Out. And Create Real Change.