Ready For Take Off

Power is a complicated concept that I have a mixed relationship with. With a lens of being in service to others, I have built a career trying to empower others to find, articulate and share their stories and passions. The goal and gift of my work has been to create spaces where others can be in service to their needs, hopes and most importantly, one another. #ItsNotAboutMe

The truth is however that for all my efforts to democratize power, I have a lot of it. As a straight, white male I easily walk through doors that are closed to those who don’t look like me. (Truth be told, I didn’t even see the door!). Because of how I look, system power tends to follow me around, just as it is harder to grasp for those who look different than I do. So for all my efforts to share power, I know it is much more involved than running a meeting well. #ItsComplicated

Enter my longtime colleague and friend Lakhdeep Singh Dhaliwal who has found his calling helping organizations deconstruct this concept called power. As a DEI professional who has worked with hundreds of organizations across North America, Lakhdeep is a beautiful and wise man. He has taught me much about the need for real proximity to others and how successful inclusion isn’t a checklist. Lakhdeep has also opened our Four Simple Words eyes to the fact that DEI conversations cannot be about shame and blame (although those are natural emotions to feel). True and effective DEI work is about accountability and responsibility.

Lakhdeep and I have been working together for a while now and this week we are making it official. Four Simple Words is humbled and excited to announce that Lakhdeep is joining the team as our Inclusion Lead. #LuckyUs  Read more about Lakhdeep here and book a free consultation with him here. Ready for a full deep dive? Book and pay for that call here. 

What is a straight white male like me doing around DEI conversations? I am following Lakhdeep’s lead and learning from him every day, often multiple times. I have compared our relationship and mutual skills a little like the experience of getting to the airport for a big trip. I am lucky enough to run the airport and do everything in my power to help you arrive and check in your luggage smoothly and hassle-free. Once you are through security (which was also super smooth because of those machines that scan your computer in the bag!), we will get you to your gate where you can enjoy the snacks, beverages and comforts you need. Our team will help you board the plane, find your seat and make sure you have every you need for your journey. 

Without you noticing, we will quietly exit the aircraft and leave you in the hands of the skilled, knowledgeable and wise pilot Lakhdeep who has planned your journey with precision and intentionality. No two trips are the same and Lakhdeep has the flying hours, aeronautical maps and tools to take you on the journey you need, even if you decide to change course mid-flight. The weather sometimes gets a little bumpy and Lakhdeep knows how to fly straight into those clouds with confidence and skill. Your time with Lakdeep will be filled with time for personal reflection, courageous conversations and a sense that real inclusion is simultaneously hard work and surprisingly simple. 

When this part of your ongoing journey is over, you will hardly know that Lakhdeep has brought you back to the ground because Curt and his team will be escorting you off the plane with your luggage and Uber waiting. As we both wave goodbye you will know that some things are the same, and something has changed.

The key to this analogy is that Lakhdeep and I both have a strong appreciation and admiration for each other’s skills. In fact, Lakhdeep started out running airports and found room for his calling in the air when he arrived at our terminal. Curt has been making people feel welcome for years and because he loves to learn is working on his own Cessna Skyhawk license, knowing that his gifts are best served supporting real pilots like Lakhdeep. 

Another reason I am excited about having DEI conversations through a Four Simple Words lens is that I can step into my calling to model authentic listening and share my own DEI journey. I hope to remind those who share some of my traits that while these conversations can be scary they are not about shame and blame. They are about accountability and responsibility, two concepts that Service Leadership invites us to use every day. 

Fully embracing DEI is the best way to express service. And service — grounded in Elsie’s wisdom — is the best way to fully embrace DEI. On behalf of your pilot Lakhdeep, we welcome to Four Simple Words Air. 

Service & DEI

Read more about our approach to DEI and why we believe that people aren’t the inclusion barrier to focus on. Systems are.

Our DEI Team

Read about our DEI team and why they are interested in deconstructing power and building communities of service.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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