The Power of Intelligent Choice: Seek to Know or to Understand

As I prepared to attend the local inauguration gala this past Friday, I was inspired by my choice to also attend the local Women’s March. I wondered if anyone else was doing both.

When I mentioned the march to my 86-year-old in-law (I’ll call her granny) she asked if it was a march against Trump. I replied, no. It was a solidarity march to bring awareness to women’s issues.

She promptly replied, “Women have enough.”

Seeing her expression, poised to argue, I didn’t bother to tell her the march would be starting at the gravesite of suffragist Mary A Nolan, the oldest woman jailed for protesting in D.C. for the right to vote. I was excited and wanted to hear my granny’s stories about the past. Immediately, I realized that I would hear none.

I explained that I will be there to bring awareness to the needs of girls transitioning out of foster care and for breast cancer awareness. I also wanted to bring awareness to the problem of sex trafficking and modern day slavery.

I suppose I mentioned breast cancer because it was something that resonated with her and as expected, it made her think about what she had said about women having enough.

In my upcoming book, DIVA DECISIONS, I talk about the power of everyday choice. At the core of this power is our choice to “think.” I knew my granny had not thought about what she just said so I chose to offer a subtle reminder of the power of thought.

I participated in my local inauguration event because my choice for the coming year is to bring back the practice of having conversations; when people didn’t speak for the sake of arguing, selling, or pushing out an agenda, but for the sake of curiosity, exploration and understanding. That requires that I break through my comfort zone and initiate a conversation with people of varying viewpoints.

DIVA DECISIONS challenges us to shift our conversations from a fixed mindset of knowing to an open mindset of understanding. As a life and leadership coach, I put forth the case that that is the difference between living a full life or a reduced life wherein you have only touched the surface of your potential.

I am taking with me three mantras, “When they go low I go high," “Deal me in,” and “Make America great.” My conversations will "go high” by attending an inauguration event, “deal myself in” by putting myself in the room and into the conversation, and “make America great” by increasing my ability to empathize with others. I want to hear their stories. I want to engage in conversations that contribute to unification and understanding.

As I think of my granny and extended family, I am unsure of whom or what informs their conversations. Is it by artificial mediums or real people she can feel and touch? Her reaction and statement, ‘Women have enough” mimicked those artificial narratives. My response reminded her of what was real but, I won’t be there to remind her tomorrow. I will be elsewhere starting a conversation with someone I want to know and understand.

© 2017 by Dr. V. Brooks Dunbar #DRVBROOKSDUNBAR