Practicing Humanistic Leadership when the people around you - are not.

I recently did a talk for 7,000 people online on Humanistic Leadership.  One person asked me in the chat: I want to ask that if one person is following and practicing these all things but other colleagues are not then in that case what can we do? 

A leader is someone people - follow.  To be a leader - means - you have to be courageous.  It means - choosing to do the right thing - even when the right thing is hard. And encouraging others to do the right thing too.

Being a leader - doesn't mean - being a boss. Ordering people around - is what managers do. Leaders - inspire and encourage people to follow them.

The question of - whether you can practice humanistic leadership if others around you don't - is - yes - and you absolutely should choose to be ethical - even if and especially if - the people around you - aren't being ethical!

This is a choice you make because of who you want to be. It's the choice to courageously be authentic to yourself and to your values and to encourage others to do the same. 

You don't need anyone else's permission to be humanistic in your approach to life and work and leadership.  You just choose to be that way. 

What will happen depends when you do this - will vary. I can't guarantee success. Unethical people - if they are your bosses - probably won't respond well. It happens. But ... if the bosses are ethical - they will see you - and acknowledge you for being the ethical person you have chosen to be.

I've had both happen. I've only really lost one job and it's because I stood up to my boss and told him that he must never say racist things in front of me ever again.  I've also stood up to bullies and have the chairman of the board call me to thank me and let me know I had their full support before they fired the problem person.

To me - while I prefer to have the good things happen by being good. The benefit of being a good person and making a point to be a good person - even in difficult situations - is that I know - I've done my best. My sense of dignity has remained firmed. 

If you want to be more humanistic - no one can stop you. Just - be a good person. Live your values. Be compassionate, honest and responsible with everyone you meet. Your reputation will benefit from this choice and - while the unethical people around you won't like it - most people you meet - will be thrilled and your social status will benefit as a result - because - the number of unethical people - is actually - small when compared to the silent majority who are sick of the unethical people but don't have the courage to do anything about it.

Want to lead - truly lead - approach everything you do and every person you meet - humanistically.

Learn more:

I have a variety of online programs where I teach not only Humanism but how to apply Humanism to your daily life and decision making. Check out my course offerings here -

I'm ready for the civil war to finally be over

We need to finally decide to marginalize racists and stop allowing them to dictate terms of - anything.  

I grew up in Los Angeles, but now live in the south. Florida to be exact.  I live on what used to be Calusa land in an area that has been inhabited since the last ice age. 

I live on what used to be "plantation" land. The white people who "settled" the specific land I live on - created a slave labor camp here that enslaved over 200 people at one point.  Just a block away from me is the main house (which is now a state park - named after Judah P. Benjamin ( a cabinet member of the Confederacy who hid here before fleeing to England at the end of the war. 

It was quite a shock when I moved here, though it took me a while to understand why all the crazy things that were happening - were happening. I just couldn't get my head around it for a while. But once I understood - it radicalized me and I am now - anti-racist. And I REALLY want us to stop fighting the civil war and move on with reconstruction already!  But we can't do that - until we recognize that - we are still fighting - the civil effing war!!!!! And then - once we realize that - we need to win it - for freedom and equality! 

 I grew up with friends and classmates from every ethnicity and background and religion. I had no real sense of what racism is - until I moved here.   I'm not sure people who grow up in this area - really understand how - not ok it is and how racism infects - everything. But it does - effect - EVERYTHING.

First - I want to say - we've made tremendous progress since I've lived here. Locally - our racists - no longer control our government. Our government structure and make up is still designed by racists though - so it's a one party system (with token representation) despite the governing party only having like 55% support of the voters. The fact our government doesn't come close to proportionally representing the people - is by racist design. It's one of the many parts of the racist system (systemic racism) that needs to be fixed.

Voting - we have made great strides. When I first moved here- the system itself was set up by and run by racists. I am a highly educated woman. It took me 6 months to figure out how to register to vote. (I had to take off from work and get to the county building downtown and register there - and even then - they tried to talk me out of registering for the democrats - which I thought was really odd and totally inappropriate). Then - they prevented me from voting for 3 years. I finally registered absentee in order to ensure I could vote because - attempting to vote in person - failed - for 3 years. I understand now - the problem was systemic racism. The great news is - those problems are LARGELY fixed. The last 2 supervisors - have done an amazing job dismantling the barriers that were erected to prevent certain people from a certain party - from voting.  We now almost 2 weeks of early voting and vote by mail and in person voting. And registering can be done at any DMV or county office.  But - there is still a problem of access and locations. My local polling station - for instance - was closed for the primary. I could not walk to my poll. I would have to drive (which is a problem if you don't have a car). 

Speaking of which - public transportation is another part of the system that developed with racism in it's core. Yes - we have public transport. But it's pretty useless. The buses stop running at 6 pm and if you want or need to go to an social service center  - you will probably have to walk 45 minutes from the nearest bus stop to get there in the Florida heat and humidity. You basically can't function here - unless you have your own car.  Too poor to afford a car - or public transport?  You can get a free bus pass - but you have to get yourself downtown to get it which means - paying money - to get downtown. And you can only access that - 9-5 on weekdays. So if you do have a job - good luck - getting a free bus pass - even though they are available. The last time I rode the bus - there was a guy who had just gotten a job near my house - and he had had to go home - by the bus to get a document and come back. Our bus - was the last bus of the day (it was 5:30 pm) and he was going to have a 2 ish hour walk home after dropping off his paperwork! If you are poor - a racist system - will keep you that way. 

Zoning? That's another part of the racist system. I didn't understand it until I was fortunate enough to purchase some rental properties. I knew about red-lining - but I didn't really understand it. What happened here - though - and why our communities developed like they did - have their roots in slavery and emancipation. And every time people tried to fix it - there was a backlash. Where were people allowed to live?  Our zoning laws - restrict where people can live - still. This is it's own topic - but - just understand - we are only just NOW - starting to integrate our communities and the president of the United States is telling people who are afraid of that integration that - he will stop it from happening.  It needs to happen though. And this is one of those - civil war battles that still needs to be won.  We should not allow ourselves to be held hostage this way. It's NOT good for our society and it does REAL harm to real people. We need to integrate ourselves. 

Schools - yeah - they are kind of integrated - but also kind of NOT. It's another part of the - racist system that - still exist and still needs to be fixed and is tied - to zoning which has it's roots in slavery and the backlash to emancipation.   And the lynching.

Oh yes - my community - had lynching.

But again - these stories are starting to be told - our agricultural museum has information on farms that were stolen - through lynching now.  The people who committed those crimes - finally died so the stories can be told now.

And really - that is what the south has been waiting for. For people to die out. We can finally end the civil war - when the people who committed these crimes - die out. We have all just been waiting for them  - to die off so we can finally remove the yoke they put on our community - so we can FINALLY move forward! And - this desire for this to end - is not partisan at all. The racists are all in one of the parties - but their fellow party members - don't like them at all and would prefer them - gone and actively work to dismantle all the systemic crap they created. 

The hope was - once they all die - THEN we can finally make progress. I'm sick of waiting. And I'm white!  This is all fixable. But to fix it - we need to be honest about what it is and what we allowed to happen to appease the racists so we wouldn't have to continue fighting the civil war as an actual military thing. 

America cannot continue half free. We cannot accomplish all the things we are capable of accomplishing if we continue to do this - with a portion of our fellow citizens intentionally marginalized and prevented from participating in our society - which is what we have allowed to happen in the name of - eventually all these old racists will die off. 

Yes - the ones that committed the crimes of the past century - have largely died - but they also spawned a whole new generation of racists who are still fighting to keep intact - the racist systems we REALLY need to dismantle. 

The only way the civil war ends - is if we intentionally - end it. To do that - we need to acknowledge the reality of this problem and take active steps to marginalize the racists so they can no longer dictate our influence our public policy. 

And while I completely owe a debt of gratitude to the people in the local government who have taken on their own party to make much needed progress - I do think - they either need to jettison the racist wing of their party - or leave their party and create a new governing coalition that is actively anti-racist. We are now the majority. It is clear - we are the majority. Think of how much we can accomplish if we work together - to finally end the remnants of the civil war and finally - move forward - together as a unified country. 

Thanks for listening. 

Rational, Responsible and Reasonable Ethics

 Wouldn’t it be nice if every decision we made was rational, responsible and reasonable?  Of course it would. The problem is that figuring out what the rational, responsible and reasonable thing to do isn’t always easy. And despite our good intentions, getting a group to agree on the best course of action is even harder to accomplish. 

The challenge is how to integrate your ethics into your decision making in a way that helps you make better decisions that will reflect your values and allow you to be the sort of ethical, compassionate and responsible leader you’ve always wanted to be without getting into arguments with others.

Step 1: Create a list of ethics you value most. You can get this list from your faith tradition or from the 10 Humanist Commitments.

Note:  Most people regardless of backgrounds - value the same things. Just understand that in a secular workplace - you must focus on the shared common human values and not on personal religious values like - obedience to God.  Focus on the common public values and not on your personal religious specific values. The religious reasons why you value these things is a personal matter - that you value them - is a public matter as it tells others what to expect from you.

Step 2: Sort the values based on what you think is most important.  Think of this as creating a priority list on how to break ties when more than one value is in conflict with another value. Which ones win out?  Studies on global ethics find compassion is highly rated - as is personal responsibility and honesty for instance. The point is to understand which you think is most important. 

Step 3: Start actively talking about - what good outcomes are - based on your chosen public values.  Is this solution compassionate? Responsible? Honest? How can you maximize the good that comes out of a decision and minimize the harm?  This is the actual practice of using your values explicitly in your decision making. 

Step 4: The final step is to make sure- you are making your decisions based on - accurate information.  This requires humility - which is hopefully - one of your values.   If you make decisions based on bad information - your decisions will be bad - not good. To make sure your decisions are good - you have to make sure you have good accurate information - which means - accepting that what you think you know - may not be so. And being willing to correct yourself when you make a mistake.  Learning how to determine what is true and what isn't - is an important life skill.

Want to learn more:

I have online courses that will teach you how to do this better. The first is:

Reality Based Decision Making For Effective Strategy Development -

Or consider taking one of my certificate courses in Applied Humanistic Leadership -

Hope - Joy - and Existential Dread

 My son was working on a - intro to himself paper for his teacher. Actually it was an odd poem form.  One of the lines was - Hope - Joy - Existential Dread.

It makes sense. Most of the time, he's pretty happy. Even though he hasn't seen his friends in person since - March! 

He's back in school - but only virtually. His friends that went back - didn't want to because - Covid - but he said they have a morbid humor about it. Apparently - they are all going to die from climate change - so why would it matter if they die a few years early. 

The adult in me - is horrified. Children should NOT be thinking like that. On the other hand - I remember doing duck and cover drills for nuclear war when I was a kid, living in Los Angeles, - ground zero. All our parents worked in aerospace. And I remember - every time we did a duck and cover drill how stupid it was because - while hiding under a desk can save us from an earthquake - it can't save us from disintegration.  My best friend Meghan and I agreed - if we heard the sirens go off for real (we had a noon test of the warning system daily), we would head to the beach and - die there. 

My son and his friends existential dread - is horrifying as a parent - but also - kind of normal when I think back on my childhood. 

I actually think my son's approach - that he is both hopeful and joyful and filled with existential dread - is just - normal for life.  Whoopie, We're all going to die! That predates me. So does - How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb. 

Should we worry about our children? Of course. But worrying about death is - to a certain extent normal and we all have to come to terms with our eventual mortality and be grateful for the time we do have. 

Living beats the alternative. 
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