I’ve had great opportunities in leadership. I’m a woman. For some, one has nothing to do with the other. For others, a woman in leadership is something. I try not to define my roles by my gender or ethnicity but I would be naive to think that they are completely separate. I’ve been blessed by opportunity. I’ve worked hard and I’m grateful. I recognize that our society has come a long way and I celebrate that but my journey is not the same for everyone and I would be selfish to forget that.
Conversations about progress can go a few different directions whether it’s about women in leadership, racial issues, education or politics. There are the ones that make no mention at all of any progress or efforts. There’s also the ones that say the conversation is pointless and ungrateful because there’s been some progress. Both of these directions lead us to dead-ends.
No progress? If we’re going to have a healthy conversation with any amount of encouragement involved then we need to acknowledge where progress, effort and heart have been present. I think the fear in doing this is that if we say what’s been good that somehow that makes what has not been good less urgent. I think it’s part of our human nature. We know how to file a complaint but how often do we stop to tell someone what they’ve done well?
No need? Strides have been made so why do we keep talking about it? Here’s the thing about progress. Progress does not mean that the job is done. Progress means that we’re going in the right direction. Progress does not mean finished. If done well, these could be great conversations. So why keep the talking?
- Talking about the progress brings hope and encouragement.
- Talking about what’s being done and why it’s being done can communicate purpose to those who may not see or understand why these things are done.
- Talking about progress is an opportunity to celebrate the journey.
- Talking about what is still needed helps us to not become complacent.
- Talking about what is still needed doesn’t assume that everyone has had the same opportunities as we have.
- Talking about what is still needed opens the door for others to jump on the change train.
One last thought. When we say that because there’s been progress that the topic or issue is not worth talking about, what we are basically saying is, “stick a pacifier in your mouth and be grateful for what you got”. Harsh? True.
Celebrate progress and keep the sleeves rolled up for the work to continue.