Between last Friday’s Good Leadership Breakfast kick-off, and Sunday’s Lakeside Gathering at Diamond Lake Lutheran Church, I’m asking myself the powerful question: “How do I know who I am?” That question was central to the performances of two powerful, insightful African American men who are now a part of my life. Stedman Graham was the speaker at the breakfast, and T. Mychael Rambo, was the speaker at the church gathering. Here’s what I’m thinking today:
I am a 55 year-old suburban white male – a business owner who is motivated by faith, loves family & friends, and struggles to find satisfaction on fitness. By the standards of most people living on planet Earth, I have an enviable lifestyle and a platform for influencing many people, on many things. As Stedman Graham pointed his big finger at me from the stage and asked “Do you know who you are?” He got my attention. His point – our self-identity creates the lens by which we relate to the world.
Two days later, T. Mychael Rambo performed an abridged version of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech: I Have a Dream, on the stage in the Lake View room of our church. Then, he explained how three hundred years ago, white men in my socioeconomic strata enslaved Africans for their own pleasure and advancement. That got my attention. It was a pointed message, because race relations haven’t advanced much (if at all) in recent years.
Here’s what hit me the most: In many conversations, 55 year-old white men are targeted in conversations about race and gender equity. We’re largely considered to be the source of the problem, or as a source of influence to undo the wrongdoing. But through the voices of Stedman Graham and T. Mychael Rambo, I never felt targeted. Their grace and power spoke to me in ways that kept me engaged, interested, and involved. They used their power to lift everyone in the room “up,” without tearing anyone down.
Stedman aptly summarized my feelings: “Good leadership is everything. Without it, you have nothing.” His central theme was his call to identify who we are and what we want. For you, it’s the questions: “Who am I?” and “What do I want?” – in order to be that good leader, who radiates goodness.
So now, I’m engaged in a deep inner dialogue about my identity and my intentions: I know goodness pays in many ways. And the world needs us all to role model good leadership, that transcends to goodness for all.
So, will you share with me: How do you know who you are?
I gotta admit…it was fun to host Stedman Graham – he loved The Seven Fs.