Ep #70: How to Know What You Don’t Know as a Leader

 In Podcast

The only way to know what you don’t know, and to gain an understanding of whatever it is, is to be willing to tolerate and sit with discomfort. It doesn’t mean you have to agree. It means you have the opportunity to listen, to stretch and to grow.

What you’ll find in this episode:

  1. Why it’s so important to get out of the echo chamber.
  2. Pay attention to how you feel. If someone introduces you to something and you feel repulsed, indignant, angry, resentful – pay attention.
  3. Find new teachers, thought leaders and discussion groups.

Featured on the Show and Other Notes:

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Podcast Transcript

Hey. I’m Kris Plachy, host of the Lead Your Team podcast. Running a million-dollar business is not easy, and whether you’re just getting started with building your team, or you’ve been at this for a while, I’m going to bring you honest, specific, and clear practices you can use right now, today, to improve how well you lead your team. Let’s go ahead and get started.

Hello there, and welcome to this week on the podcast. I am so glad that you’re here. Thank you for tuning in. I feel like we’re in week 417 of mass world change. Yeah, it’s just such a powerful time for all of us. I think so much about you, and me, and the world, and where are we going to land, and how are we going to do our work, and do so with integrity and grace based on who we are in the world, and really what we want that to mean.

I posted something on Instagram last week. There was a quote that just struck me. I’m sure at this point, most of you have heard it, but it was, “When George Floyd called out for his mama, all mothers were summoned.” I still get goosebumps when I hear it. It just hit me like, “Okay, I’m going to find my place here.”

I immediately had a visual of the parachute game that so many of us played as kids. Everybody holds a piece of the parachute and they put the balls in the middle, you pull it up in the air and then half the kids run under, and it’s fun. I don’t know why that flashed into my head, but it did, and I was thinking about how you can’t play that game by yourself. You can’t hold the parachute alone. It doesn’t work, because, to be honest, I felt very overwhelmed in general with how much needs to be done, and I just didn’t know where to begin. So then, I thought about this parachute and I thought, “Well, no, my job is to hold my part of the parachute.” My part of the parachute is focusing on leadership, that’s my area, and specifically female entrepreneurs and leaders. That clarity was really helpful for me.

I would first invite you just to sort of think about, what’s your part? What part of the parachute are you going to grab onto here if you want to? The podcast today is about how to know what you don’t know. I think a lot of people who I work with, a lot of white leaders are feeling that, like, “Oh, there is a lot I don’t know. How do I know it? How do I come to know it?” I would add to that, it’s not just about knowing it, it’s about understanding. As we are all in the process of transformation, there’s a lot of tools, a lot of information that’s coming at us, and I believe that the function of leadership is to hear all of that and process to come up with your own voice. These are some tips that I wanted to share with you around how to know what you don’t know.

Step one, get out of the echo chamber. You’ve got to get out of the places, and the people, and the teachers, and the voices that are just saying what you want to hear. I know it feels good, I know it feels validating, but it’s a reality that it’s an echo chamber, and that you’re only learning from people who think like you. If you want to know what you don’t know, you can’t learn from people anymore right now who think like you. You’ve got to be willing to step into some environments where you don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, and you’re confused and you’re mad. So step out.

Now, I want to throw a caution, because this is part of the dynamic that’s happening right now, which I think is part of the process. I’m not much of a human behavioral scientist, so I can’t speak to that the way that others probably could. We need to be aware of leaders who bathe themselves in anger, and vitriol, and resentment, and ache, just in general, ache. I use the word leaders, I could also say teachers, but there’s a real dynamic happening right now that I am acutely aware of, of people using very low vibration energy to attract you and others to them. And how I know it’s low vibration is it’s ugly. It’s anger. It’s venomous. It’s shame-filled. Be careful. It feels good. It’s like eating a Big Mac, or a Sundae, or watching Tiger King. It like feeds that lowest level of our vibration, so it feels good in the moment, but it leaves you empty.

The second thing I would say about how to know what you don’t know is pay attention to how you feel. If somebody introduces something to you and you feel repulsed, indignant, angry, resentful, pay attention. There’s something there you need to know that you don’t know. Are you willing to feel uncomfortable?

The only way to learn things you don’t know and to gain an understanding is to be willing to tolerate and sit with discomfort. If you make that commitment, it doesn’t mean you have to agree. It means you have the opportunity to hear and listen. “What about this person, this teacher, this book, this show, this movie is true?” Instead of, immediately, with your anger, or your discomfort, or your judgment, or your offense, you shut it off. “What could be true here? How could this be true for others and not for me? What if that’s the case? What if this has existed and I just never knew? What if,” instead of, “No way.” Be open. Open to those emotions. I know they’re wretched.

I recently read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and it was a tough, tough read, or listen… I should say I listened to it. I just listened and thought, “Okay, how is this true? How could this be true?” I found truth and understanding, which I think is the trait of a leader. I think we have to be able and willing to stand in understanding without total acquiescence, like leaning into the herd, or leaning out of the herd, like really finding you here.

For me, the place I land… I said this to someone yesterday, because people get really caught up in the noise of the fringe. There’s fringe elements that polarize. They’re very polarized. I don’t listen to the fringe. I want to find the space for me, and where I’ve landed is in, what does humanity say? What does humanity say? What does kindness, and love, and honesty say? I’m very clear about that to me. There has been a systemic racism in our society that has had a detrimental effect on a population that we share this earth with, and that’s not okay. That isn’t a political movement to me. That isn’t a fringe statement. That’s a provable fact.

Now, everybody’s going to have one-off arguments against it, that’s okay. To me, it’s not going to hurt me to believe that. In fact, it’s going to make me better as a leader; more holistic, more thoughtful, more understanding, more welcoming, more open. I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t want that. I hold that space, and I’m going to continue to learn from everybody. I’m getting information from everyone. Everybody wants me to know things. I’m listening to all of it, and I think we all should do too. But if you aren’t right, are you willing to be wrong? In order to know what you don’t know, your answer to that has to be yes, or you will not indulge or allow for very long a contrarian uncomfortable position or thought.

The last thing I would add to how to know what you don’t know is teachers. Finding new teachers. Finding new thought leaders. Finding new discussion groups. Listening to other voices. For all of that, to me, is essential, which I’m so excited by because I’m like, “Oh my gosh…” What I’ve been saying is, I feel like there’s a room in my house that I didn’t know was there even, and now I know it’s there and I’ve kind of opened the door, and I’m so eager to see what else I can learn and know, because I believe my work is also to be helpful and do the work in the world around leadership. So if I can learn more and be more helpful, I’m excited to do that. Plus, I love to learn. I love to be exposed to alternative thinking.

I’m also doing things; I’m changing things in my business. I have hired a diversity advisor to work with me, and I should also, she will be working with all of my clients. So people who work with my business as a client will have access to diversity advisement, consultation and coaching in this partnership with Dr. Camille Broussard Wise, who her name suits her so beautifully. Mrs. Wise, Dr. Wise. Her voice. She is as funny as she is smart, and I’m beyond excited.

Camille and I have known each other for several years. We’ve always wondered why… We’ve had this very strange parallel life. We went to the same college. Our husbands went to the same college at the same time. We didn’t know each other. We both have twins. Our girls play soccer together. There’s a lot of things so we’ve just decided, the whole reason our girls needed to meet and play soccer was so that the two of us could meet and know each other.

Now, that work is getting extended because Camille has been working for social justice. She has her doctorate in leadership and management, and she has been teaching for years, leadership and diversity. She’s going to be bringing a powerful voice to this work that my business does, and I’m so honored that she said yes, and so proud to provide this to my clients.

I’m taking my steps as they present them to me to stretch, and grow, and reflect what I believe needs to be done in the part of the parachute that I hold. I invite you this week to think about that. What is your part of the parachute, and what do you need to know that you don’t know, and where can you go to find it? Thanks for tuning in. Have a wonderful, wonderful day.

Hey there, gorgeous. Are you ready to take everything I teach you in this podcast and put it to work in your business, and really learn how to master leading your team? If so, I’d love to have you as a client in the Founder’s Lab. To learn more about how we can work together, head on over to Krisplachy.com/join. There, you’ll see everything you need to know about the Founder’s Lab, and how to get started. See you there.

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