My “Single Story” of Bias

I called a big software company yesterday for support. I had just purchased a new subscription for software and could not figure out for the life of me how to set it up.  So by the time I had a chance to speak with a real person I was frazzled and frustrated.

To make matters worse, the support person pronounced my name incorrectly so I promptly correctly him. He quickly apologized. I had a very difficult time understanding his accent as he tried to walk me through the steps to resolve my issue and get me started. I was having a hard time following his instructions. So as is natural, he started speaking louder as if I was hard of hearing.  I said, you don’t have to raise your voice, I can hear you but I don’t understand you.  As it turns out, he admitted that he was having trouble with my southern accent also.  What?

I asked the young man where he was from and he replied, “the United Kingdom”.  Then I asked again, “Where are you from originally?”.  Shyly he responded, Ghana.  The young man was from Ghana, a country in West Africa with a population of 25 million.  His name was Emmanuel.

At that moment  I was aware of our shared humanity. I call these moments “oh shit” awareness moments. I realized that we were both doing our best in a challenging situation.  And in that moment, I was reminded of a Nigerian novelest, who has written an important piece about the danger of a single story.  It is a Ted talk that is well worth your time:  https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?language=en 

I told Emmanuel about the wonderful novelist, Chimamanda Adichie who was very funny and bright.  I suggested he listen to her talk. When I admitted that I was expressing my bias towards him, Emmanuel  softened.  He admitted that he was doing his best to help me. I told Emmanuel that I appreciated how patient he was being with me, and I was sorry that I had been difficult because I was so frustrated.

Chimamnanda translated means “God can never fail” and Emmanuel translated means “God with us”.  I am blessed by an important lesson from 2 different people from 2 very different countries in Africa. What a lovely gift that I can take with me to consider how I express my bias and how I want to change.

New Year’s Lesson

On New Year’s Eve I recalled some wisdom I learned from an influential healthcare leader.   The lesson is that we spend roughly one-third of our lives in bed, one-third of our lives at work and one-third of our lives with our family.  While we don’t have total control over our family members,  we can buy a great mattress and pursue a career we love.

Taking action where I have some control in my life is an obvious first step.  Added to this lesson, my goal this year is to increase my awareness of the dynamics in areas that I have little control yet have an opportunity to influence in constructive ways.

“Life is a flash of lightning in the dark of night. It is a brief time of tremendous potential.” – B. Alan Wallace

 

Coaching for Your Health

Its been well documented that our stress level can impact our health.  Now new research shows that the brain is directly connected to the immune system.   This news begs the question, “How are you managing stress and your overall emotional well-being?

One strategy is to ask for a coach’s non-judgmental perspective . A coach can listen to your concerns, keep you on track and support the behavior change you want to see for a healthy, balanced life.

If you want to read more about the emotion disease connection Gabor Mate, MD explores the topic in his article linked below.  Here is a short excerpt:

“I never get angry,” says a character in one of Woody Allen’s movies. “I grow a tumor instead.” Much more scientific truth is captured in that droll remark than many doctors would recognize. Mainstream medical practice largely ignores the role of emotions in the physiological functioning of the human organism. Yet the scientific evidence abundantly shows that people’s lifetime emotional experiences profoundly influence health and illness. http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/good-health/gabor-mate-how-to-build-a-culture-of-good-health-20151116

Want to experience coaching? Contact: bgriffithcooper@gmail.com      www.firestartercenter.com