What to do when you don't know what to say about gender, 'race' and other big issues.

It feels like a lot of horrors are coming to the surface right now in the world. 

It brings up our own experiences, fears and sorrows.

We can feel powerless, hopeless and overwhelmed.

We can feel, or in fact be, attacked or under threat.

If the horrors don't directly impact us, we can go back to our usual lives.

That's because horrors and most big issues aren't evenly spread across our world or our country.

It depends on our location, the colour of our skin, our religion, our sexuality, our gender, our incomes and so on. 

But it occurred to me that despite how sad and infuriating and bloody awful things can be there is plenty of work we can do that is simple and influential.

Political activity is always part of this but this blog focuses on what you can do everyday that will become simple, powerful and useful in creating positive change.

Here's my imperfect take on it.

Think about anytime you learn about something that is new and challenging for someone else.

As I was part of a Peter MacCallum Cancer fundraiser on Tuesday night, I'm thinking about when you first know someone with cancer*.

You learn about it by reading up about it, listening and supporting. 

You believe their experiences.

You learn what is the worst thing to say (immediately apologise if you stuff up) and learn how to stop others from making the same mistakes. 

It becomes normal to love that person and respect their journey where it started off awkward.

You let their pain hit your heart when you can hold it well and not have it pour back onto them (that is extra labour they could do without, in many instances).

This cancer example speaks to how to work with issues that sit outside of your experience because you have the privilege of health.

The horrors of the world that are so front of mind, the everyday violence against women, the plebiscite to indicate approval of same-sex marriages and the everyday oppression of people of colour can be part of your story or stand outside of it. 

You see, I can be devastated as I understand more and more the deep and pervasive impact of racism and discrimination on individuals, communities and countries but as a white woman, I can also step away from it. 

On the other hand I can mourn my experiences as a woman and those of other women but I can't step away from them, even for a day.

Despite how much courageous, wise souls have fought to make the world more just and equitable, more embracing of diversity and difference, despite all the research that says it is good for EVERYONE to live in a fairer society (even if it just means the super rich are less likely to be robbed) there are plenty of people angry, asleep and paralysed that would benefit from good role models - you. 

Importantly, there are endless people in your world who will benefit from having an ally to help support and advocate.

So can you use the cancer* example to work consciously with these hard issues?

I know you can because I bet you already have learnt how to be a great ally in other instances that feel less terrifying to 'stuff up'.

You can listen, support and believe. 

You can learn what is offensive, apologise when you misstep (no one is perfect) and guide others kindly to avoid the same pitfalls.

You can let the horror of it hit your heart and feel sick about where you've been a part of it (most of us have) and it will soften your heart, not kill you.

You can move from tentative and a bit awkward to feeling more relaxed (though not the expert unless its in your life lane) when talking about sexuality, gender and 'race' oppression, poverty and so on.

The more people with lived experience are your teachers, the better you will do. We can't deem to truly know what it feels like unless we live it. That's okay, it's the way it should be.

Basically, you can help make life a lot better for people experiencing the result of old and pervasive discrimination today.

The keys are: to listen, to learn, to try, to apologise when you muck up (we all do, we are all learning) and to be conscious.

This is conscious ambition, dear ones and it's part of us all.

*Please note that I'm not comparing having cancer to being a woman, gay or black etc. - I'm just using the scenario as an example of respectfully learning, supporting and advocating. 

Much love,

Lara xx

P.S. If you are you ready to bring conscious ambition into your professional life, pop your details in below and we can have a complementary hour session to get going.

Hi, I'm Dr Lara Corr, a researcher, life coach and expert in thriving at work. I support professionals to discover and live with conscious ambition through private coaching, group workshops and gorgeous retreats. 

I'd love to keep in touch - let's connect on my Facebook and Instagram pages.