Pause On The Play Ep 11

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Hello hello, and welcome back to Pause On The Play. It is amazing to see you here, where you are challenged to examine your beliefs, question your predisposed notions, and consider realities you may have previously been unfamiliar with, in order to understand that they too are real. I am your host and conversation MC for the day, Erica Courdae, here to get the dialogue going.

I'm actually recording this, I actually just hopped out of recording the interview that you are about to listen to here. It is myself along with Lee Chaix McDonough. She is amazing. Lee is someone that I met from a mutual business acquaintance that we have and a friend of mine, and from the first conversation, we just ... The conversation flowed, and there was a lot of space there to really talk about things that some people just aren't willing to talk about, let alone in the first conversation with someone.

And I love that transparency. I love that vulnerability. We were talking about her journey and allyship for her, and what that looked like. I really appreciated where she was coming from, and I felt like I really wanted to bring not only our conversation, but the fact that you could hear what her journey looked like, what it felt like for her, how it tied in between life and business, and just the fact that she is modeling what can happen if you allow yourself to show up and simply be imperfect, because there is no such thing as, "I am going to do this right at all times." That's no part of life. It just isn't that way.

And her showing up and that simply being enough, and being mindful about the changes that she wanted to see and the things that she wanted to be a part of, moving in a direction that she felt was going to be better for everybody involved. Because really, the whole entire point of the work that we're doing is because equity needs to exist for all. And honestly, you want to get to a point where equity doesn't matter, because we don't have to fight about giving someone something that they don't have, because somebody else already has those things.

There's enough for everyone. I posted something the other day that ... I think it was a sign that someone was holding, and it said, "This is not pie." Giving someone equal rights or an equal opportunity, the same seat at the table. It's not pie. Nobody's taking anything from you, and being able to get there and get everyone to the point that that is normal, that's what we're really working towards. I really want you to listen in on this conversation so you can hear where we are with this, and let me know what you think. I'd like you to come on over to Instagram and talk to me about it, so without further ado.

Erica Courdae:                  And today, ladies and gentlemen, I am here with Lee ... Okay Lee, I'm going to ask you to pronounce your last name, because I am not going to mispronounce it and feel like a jerk.

Lee Chaix McDonough: No, not at all, and I've heard just about every pronunciation you can imagine. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough, but you're welcome to just call me Lee.

Erica Courdae:                  Ooh, Chaix sounds so old, so expensive. I love that.

Lee Chaix McDonough: It's very Cajun, actually.

Erica Courdae:                  I love that. Lee is a lovely woman that I met through a mutual friend and business ... I like cohort. I'm going to go with cohort, that I have, and when she connected me to you, I had no idea how much I would enjoy you personally and professionally. I think you are extremely personable, you're sweet, and I really like your take on things. And I think you're an amazing person for people to be introduced to here as we talk a little bit about allyship, and what imperfect allyship looks like, and what it means for you, so Lee, I want you to tell the audience about yourself.

Lee Chaix McDonough: First, let me just thank you for that, because I feel the same way. When we connected, I knew that you were an important voice, and I was really excited to get to know you personally and professionally, and so it's such an honor for me to be on the show. Thank you for having me.

Erica Courdae:                  Oh, it's all my pleasure. Thank you.

Lee Chaix McDonough: I ... My name is Lee Chaix McDonough. I am a business coach and a licensed psychotherapist. I am the author of the book Act On Your Business: Braving the Storms of Entrepreneurship and Creating Success Through Meaning, Mindset, and Mindfulness. And because I'm insane, I decided to start a podcast too, and so I am also the host of the Work Your Inner Wisdom podcast. I love working with spiritually-minded, spiritually-oriented entrepreneurs to help them cultivate a strong entrepreneurial mindset, and to figure out how to create a profitable business that doesn't require them to sacrifice their values or what matters most to them, and doesn't bring them out of alignment with their sense of spirit and what they want their life to be about.

Erica Courdae:                  I love that you used the word alignment, because I think that that's such a huge thing, and people don't ... I think they underestimate it and the fact that you are connecting alignment in these emotionally or spiritually-based things with business. It's important, because a lot of people just want to separate them, and I think they overlap hugely.

Lee Chaix McDonough: I think you're right, and I think alignment is one of those words. I'm mindful that it's a bit of a buzz word. It may be slowly getting towards being overused, but I really want to clarify what it means, because I think a lot of times, when we talk about doing something that's in alignment, we think automatically that's going to feel good. And sometimes, it doesn't. Sometimes doing something that's aligned with our values actually causes some discomfort. Maybe it's not ... Maybe it puts us in a place where we're feeling a little anxious or, "Do I have what it takes to do this?" And so taking action from an aligned place may not always feel good in the moment, and yet, deep down we know it's exactly the right thing that we should be doing. That's certainly the case in business. It's also the case with imperfect allyship as well.

Erica Courdae:                  Yes, and I think it was the second or third podcast that I did, and we talked about imposter syndrome.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yes.

Erica Courdae:                  I think that, when people start to do things and it feels uncomfortable, it can be very comfortable to immediately think, "Oh, well this isn't right," or "This isn't me," and then they just don't do it. When the right thing, and I use right with air quotes, because right can sometimes be a subjective, but the thing that is in alignment. Doing that, in a lot of cases, is the thing that is going to require more energy, more stamina, and possibly more work.

Erica Courdae:                  And so, when you start to kick up against having to step into that place of acknowledging and feeling that alignment, you have to be aware to not think, "Oh, this is now triggering these feelings." Or, "This has now prompted me to bring something to the surface." Not allowing that to derail you and to think that that is what you're fighting against. It's not what you're fighting against. That tells you that you're kicking up against something that needs your attention. It needs your curiosity, and it needs to be addressed.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Exactly. I think we have, along the way, decided that discomfort is something to be avoided rather than viewing it as a sign of growth, and that we're actually on the right path. And that's where we need to really cultivate our process of discernment, so that we know, "Okay, is this uncomfortable because I am acting out of alignment? Do I need to stop what I'm doing and double-check myself here? Or is this uncomfortable because I'm growing? And I'm stretching myself and I'm pushing myself just beyond my boundaries, and that's going to serve me in the long run?"

Erica Courdae:                  Well, and I think if you're not used to knowing what it feels like when you are pushing against those boundaries and that expansion is happening, then you can very easily think that these are negative feelings, or these are feelings that are undesirable, when once you realize what it feels like when you are expanding or you're up-leveling, any of these kinds of things, you're like, "Oh, well that's what that feels like."

Erica Courdae:                  No, it doesn't feel good. Like when people tell you it feels great to do the right thing. Not always, no it doesn't. It doesn't, and you can use being a business owner, being a parent. There's a lot of things that you do that end up ... As a parent, there are times when you're like, "I just want to take a nap, but that's not what I can do in this moment." As a business owner, you're like, "Eh, I really just don't want to do this today," but when you don't, how many of those days do you have that then, those seeds that never got planted, you now have nothing to harvest?

Erica Courdae:                  When you don't do, then you have nothing to do. It's this cycle.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yeah, you're exactly right.

Erica Courdae:                  And I think that that's a very pertinent analogy when it comes to imperfect allyship. If you are planting these seeds, then you will see things begin to shift. If you don't, you're going to look around and be like, "Why is this so difficult?" Because you haven't started. Because you haven't put any of the work in in doing the work. And ... No, go ahead.

Lee Chaix McDonough: I was just going to say, as a white woman, I think I spent probably the first 35 years of my life thinking I had been doing the work, and then realizing I hadn't been. I think because I got my Master's in Social Work and I took cultural diversity classes and so forth, it was easy for me to say, "See? I'm good. I've got this." It wasn't honestly until five years ago that I started differentiating between non-racist work and anti-racist work, and I realized, "Oh oh, I've gotten caught in the trap of thinking that because I am doing non-racist work, that that's enough, and it's not. I am perpetuating racism through my own passivity, because I'm being quiet about it. Because I'm not willing to experience the discomfort that comes from standing up and doing anti-racist work, and maybe making mistakes and being corrected. Because I'm not willing to experience that, then I'm not really doing the work. I'm actually perpetuating it.

Lee Chaix McDonough: And so that's been my journey, definitely over the last five years, and really over the last ... I would say just six to nine months. It's been something that I've felt called to do, and that's one of those things where it feels incredibly uncomfortable, and yet, I also know it needs to happen, and it's in alignment with who I am and how I want to live my life.

Erica Courdae:                  It is ... First of all, I want to acknowledge you for even just saying there is a difference between non-racist and anti-racist, because I think a part of what happens is that people automatically assume that some of the ... I'm going to say inflammatory statements that are made are correct. It can actually do way more harm than good by making people think that they're doing the right things and they're not, so things like, "I don't see color."

Lee Chaix McDonough: Oh yeah, yes.

Erica Courdae:                  And you assume that, "Well no, this is good, right?" And it's like, "No," but how do you know that if there's nobody that is going to have that conversation with you? And then when it does come to you, it then shuts you down, and then you can't have any curiosity around it to inquire about it to figure ut what the problem is with it.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Exactly. I remember, I think, when this really came forth for me, I was trying to point someone out to my son, and it was another boy, a Black child, and I was trying to point him out, and I realized I was trying to describe him without referring to him as Black. And I thought to myself, "What are you doing? By not acknowledging it, you are almost erasing it, and that's not good either." There is a way to talk about race without avoiding it, do you know what I mean?

Erica Courdae:                  Absolutely.

Lee Chaix McDonough: And what kind of message am I sending to my son by not saying, "Oh yeah, do you see Black child over there? That's who you need to go talk to. He's got the answer." Instead of being like, "You see the kid with the curly hair and the red coat?" It's like, "No."

Erica Courdae:                  "Who?"

Lee Chaix McDonough: It starts at home and it starts with simple things, like simply acknowledging it. And somewhere along the way, as a white person, I got the message that it wasn't okay to reference race or talk about race. Now, I'm starting to see how that is so bass-ackwards, right?

Erica Courdae:                  Yes, yes.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Why are we not talking about this? So yeah, little things like that and then how we respond, that's what we model to our children. That's what we model to our partners and our colleagues. It starts with small things like that, but we have to be aware that we are perpetuating the problem by playing into it.

Erica Courdae:                  And I think what happens is things need to be addressed for what they are, but I think part of the reason why a lot of people are reluctant to address it is because they feel like, "Well, I don't want to give it any additional significance." That that's what makes it such a thing, and that's not true either. The reason that it's significant is because it is glossed over, the fact that that is the reason why these things exist. It's not a chicken and a egg in that, oh, it exists because we make it a thing.

Erica Courdae:                  No, the thing was already a thing, and so when you don't address it, now you're saying, "Oh, we're not going to talk about what made that a thing." And it's like, that's not ... It's just like a woman. If you feel as though ... You're an older woman and ageism came in for you. If we're not going to address the fact that you're a 65 year old woman, then how can we talk about the fact that you felt like an offense happened to you because you're an older woman. You can't do both.

Lee Chaix McDonough: No.

Erica Courdae:                  It just doesn't work that way, and kids is a great example of how we don't address things.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yeah, and when I think about why I initially did not want to address it, why I didn't want to refer to him as the Black child, it was because of fear that I would do something wrong. And because I wasn't willing to experience the discomfort of doing something wrong or possibly being corrected, then I was remaining silent. It comes back to that whole discomfort thing. I have to be willing to speak up. I have to be willing to call things out, and if I'm wrong or I do it in a way that's not appropriate, and I'm corrected on that? Then I have to be willing to hear that, take it, and move forward, and realize that, just because I've made a mistake, doesn't mean I am a mistake. Just because I may have done something wrong, it doesn't mean that I'm a bad person. It does mean I need to own it, apologize for it, and correct it and not do it again.

Erica Courdae:                  Absolutely, and as business owners, we know that we're going to do some things and be like, "Oh, that didn't work. And now I know not to do that again."

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yeah.

Erica Courdae:                  And we don't give that additional significance to it, but somehow, when we begin to talk about societal indicators, whether it's race, whether it's gender, whether it's sexual preference, any of these things, all of a sudden now it's like, "Well, I can't get that wrong." Because then, if you correct me on that, then that's somehow an indicator of me not being worthy. I'm a bad person. "Why didn't I get that?" And if we don't talk about it, then you're not going to get it. Again, there's that vicious cycle of, "We're not talking about it, and we're not getting it from the right places."

Erica Courdae:                  I went to an event the other night, and I remember talking to ... and she's a Black woman and she's in corporate America, which has its own set of ... I don't want to call them issues, challenges. And they have a diversity and inclusion program or panel that they had for them, led by two white men.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Of course.

Erica Courdae:                  It's one of those where you're like, "They what now? Why is ..." And she knew right away like, "You know this is going to work, right?" It's just like somebody telling a non-binary person what it is that they want from an activism standpoint. Why don't you ask that person what it is that they want? You can maybe say what you think will be helpful, but you need to confirm that with the person that you are actually supporting, and that's what goes back to conversation. If you're not willing to talk to this person that you are finding all of these ways to work around creating these things for them, but not actually including them on it.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yes, and I think that also speaks to the role of leadership, because don't get me wrong, the fact that those two white guys wanted to have a conversation about diversity and inclusion? Good on them. We probably need more white men who want to have that conversation, but that doesn't mean they need to be leading the conversation or leading the panel. That's where I think we really need to look at who are we inviting into the conversation and in what capacity? And it's great to ask people of color to be a part of the conversation, but at some point, we need to have them lead too.

Lee Chaix McDonough: And to do that in such a way where we're then not putting unreasonable expectations on then in terms of, "Let me teach you everything there is to know." And I think ... I was reading your email that came out this week about emotional labor, and I think that ties in so nicely there too, that there is a way to honor people and their experience, and bring them into a leadership capacity, but without requiring them to shoulder the responsibility of all of the education and all of these emotional labor.

Erica Courdae:                  And that is huge. That is huge, because I think it is very often that some people shy away from things, because they don't want to do the labor. I will say that I think, as a woman of color, as a Black woman, there are times that there may be some conversations that I'm not quite sure that I want to have, because this person may have shown me on one or more occasions that they are not willing to pull their weight when it comes to what they are willing to inquire about on their own, and allow their curiosity to get them to a place that they are gaining knowledge, and then they're looking for a certain amount of context, not for me to do the work for you. Not for me to teach you.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Exactly. Google is your friend, okay?

Erica Courdae:                  Correct.

Lee Chaix McDonough: The basic stuff, you can do that on your own.

Erica Courdae:                  Yes.

Lee Chaix McDonough: And then the nuance, that's where you build relationships and invite someone in to a conversation, but that's different from expecting them to explain it to you.

Erica Courdae:                  Correct, and that's where I think that there's some people that are afraid of having it, because maybe you've had it happen too many times, and now you're gun shy, and you're like, "I don't know what this is going to look like." Or you just, you're just almost unwilling to risk it, and so what do you do?

Lee Chaix McDonough: And I want to normalize the fear that comes with being uncomfortable. I don't want it to come out like it's not okay to feel that way. It is. It's okay to be like, "Oh, I'm feeling really ... I don't know about this. I'm feeling anxious." Because let's be honest. When all we have to do is go to Twitter and see why it feels scary to say the wrong thing, because you say the wrong thing, you're called out, and then all of a sudden, you're a pariah and it's there for the whole world to see forever.

Lee Chaix McDonough: It does feel like we are taking a huge risk. I totally get that, and so it's not that the anxiety or fear that comes up is wrong or that it's not justified, but that doesn't give you the right to then just stay silent. You still have to decide, "Okay yeah, I'm scared and I'm nervous, and I understand why I feel that way and it makes sense. Then what? Am I going to allow that to take me off the hook? Am I going to allow that to dictate my actions moving forward?" Right now, I don't think we're at a point in time where we can allow that fear to continue to run the show.

Erica Courdae:                  No, you absolutely can't. You bring up a really good point in the sense that I have seen a lot of women that I know that are strong and confident and powerful, and very prepared to be able to handle themselves, to run businesses, to manage households, to do all the things, and yet, some of these places that they choose to be when it comes to dismantling white privilege and really having to acknowledge things that are harder to pinpoint, like systemic racism or dog whistle politics, and saying, "Okay, I want to learn what these things are."

Erica Courdae:                  And then they can't show up in these spaces. They can't speak. They can't comment, because they are afraid. And that's why, for me, it's such a big thing that I am not here to shame you. Shame is going to shut you down. That spiral is not helpful to you trying to be better, so I'm not going to add to that, but at the same time, it does have to be understood that how you feel you have to acknowledge is how you choose to feel about it. And that there's maybe something that you need to, again, get curious about. "Why do I feel this way? What is triggering these things to come up for me?"

Erica Courdae:                  But at the same time, you may need to choose better where you're putting yourself out there if you know that this is something that you're working through and you're not ready to talk about it. If you're somebody that runs a business, and you have gone through something very emotional in your life, and you feel as though if you talk about it, you could be supporting other women that don't see this conversation happening. You have to do it at a point where you're healed enough that you can actually speak about this and not be thrown into victimhood or to take on anyone else's feelings about it that you don't want or that are going to make it difficult for you to show up and be honest about it, because you haven't healed. You haven't dealt with it yet.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Exactly. That's the part of doing the work. You have to do the work.

Erica Courdae:                  Right, and so if you're at that place, and you know that you're still working through this, and you know that the phrase imperfect allyship, that you're really at the imperfect part, and you are knowing that this is where you are and you're acknowledging this, don't put yourself in places where you think that that's going to happen as often. That does not mean go silent, but it means to choose wisely where you choose to be vulnerable.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yes, yes. I love that you have really pulled in this phrase of imperfect allyship. I love that you're leading the charge on that, because none of us are or will ever be perfect. That is unattainable, so this idea of perfect allyship doesn't exist. By naming it and claiming it, by saying this is imperfect allyship, it gives us permission to not know and to be uncertain and to do it anyway. But I think then, for me, and I would say for other white people, we have to understand that baked into imperfection is making mistakes, is not doing it to the ideal. That's a part of the process, and that's not a bad thing, as long as we learn from it. We're going to be called out. We're going to be making mistakes. That's part of the process. Do better next time.

Erica Courdae:                  Absolutely. And it honestly is that simple. I know it's not that simple, but it is that simple.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Well, it's simple, but not easy.

Erica Courdae:                  Correct.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Right? And that's not to say it's not going to ... This is where the discomfort comes in. Nobody likes being told that they're wrong. Nobody likes making a mistake and being called out. It doesn't feel good, even if it's done from the most objective, neutral position. There's still a part of us, or maybe me ... I'll speak for me. There's still a part of me inside that goes, "Ouch, that hurt. I screwed up and I got told that I screwed up. That doesn't feel good." Yeah, no. It doesn't feel good, but part of being an adult and part of doing the work is coming to terms with the fact that it doesn't feel good, and yet I can allow that not to define who I am as a person, and allow it to inform how I'm going to behave in the future.

Erica Courdae:                  That being said, with you doing this work, and that was what I loved was from the first conversation that we had, we spoke very openly and very candidly about it. And that was what I loved, because for me, the thing is conversation, and I think that when you're able to find that space to be able to talk and to listen and to be available to what can come from that exchange, there's so much that can happen and so much that can shift to a way that it can be more beneficial for everybody.

Erica Courdae:                  Because that's really what the issue is. Things aren't beneficial for everybody from a place of equity, and so for you, as realizing those things, how does that affect how you move through business and life, in the sense that you really hone in on the connection between the spiritual side and the awareness with business? How does your journey, where you are currently, where you've been, and where you're continuing to move towards, when it comes to imperfect allyship, how does that reflect for you in those areas?

Lee Chaix McDonough: For me, it comes down to being very intentional about creating and culting relationships. Just like you said, it's about conversation, but to have those conversations, you first have to build relationships. That takes time. Maybe it's ... Let's use us as an example, okay? I think our colleague let me know that you were in this space. I was listening to your podcast. I felt like I was getting to know you through your work first, and then I reached out to you on Instagram and sent you a private message, and thanked you and shared how your work influenced how I was thinking about things.

Lee Chaix McDonough: And so, from there, that was the seed. We were able to plant the seed. We were able to connect. We were able to get to know each other better, and so it evolved over time. I think that's where, in business, it's so important to think about that this is a relationship that we're building, and that it takes time, and that you build trust over time. First and foremost, it's the relationship, and in order to build those relationships and connect with people, you have to be really aware of who you're exposing yourself to.

Lee Chaix McDonough: I'll be honest with you. I did, six months ago, I did an audit of my Instagram feed, and I'm just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, and I was like, "Damn, all of these faces are white. What am I doing wrong here?" I realized that I was not being intentional about following the voices of women of color in my industry, and that was a problem. That was non-racist work on my part, right? I wasn't actively discriminating, but I also wasn't seeking it out, and so in doing so, I was really limiting the voices that I was listening to, and that's not helpful.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Then it becomes about intentionally finding and connecting with people, but who also share your values and your goals. There's a way to do it so that it's not tokenism. It's not following someone for the sake of their skin color or their ethnicity or their sexual orientation. It's following someone who is of color, and whose message really resonates with you, and who you feel a kinship to. That's the important balance, and then I think once you develop those relationships, it becomes about amplifying their message, amplifying their voice.

Lee Chaix McDonough: And I also think it's about hiring too, and literally putting your money where your values are, so that if you have work to do around this, you're investing in a coach that can walk you through diversity and inclusion. You're hiring people to do your branding or your social media ads or whatever. You're hiring people who are in marginalized communities. And this goes, I think, both for online entrepreneurs, but my husband is a periodontist in a rural community in Eastern North Carolina, and when he bought the practice, every single employee was white.

Lee Chaix McDonough: As a couple, we decided that that was not okay with us, and that needed to change. Over the last three years that he's owned the business, we've made a very conscious decision to promote inclusivity and diversity in our own workplace. And I think his staff is stronger for it. His business is stronger for it too, but it was also not just about finding a person of color. It was about finding the right person for the job who also brought in that experience that we needed, so there's a way to marry both. Does that make sense?

Erica Courdae:                  It makes perfect sense. First of all, I want to really acknowledge the fact that you said that it took three years to really get what you were setting out to do to a place that you felt like, "Okay, we have succeeded in this." I think people start to do the work, and they think, "Oh, I'm good. I've been doing this for three months," or three years or whatever that time frame is. If you wouldn't go and see a therapist and set a time limit on when you're supposed to be done, and think, "No, I'm done. I don't need to do this again." This work is no different.

Erica Courdae:                  There is no time frame. It is simply when you feel as though you have done this particular thing within the work, because there's always going to be something else, and so you knew what needed to be done, but it took time. Giving yourself that grace to understand that it's not going to happen overnight is a part of it, and acknowledging the fact that you chose to invest in having people that worked there that reflected the values and beliefs that you had was a huge part of it. You invested in that, so you were voting with your dollars, and that's something that I talk about.

Erica Courdae:                  Voting with your dollars is not always what you do. It's what you don't do, and sometimes it's choosing a place that is more diverse, or choosing a company for your supply chain for work that does reflect the values that you hold dear, personally and professionally, so when you choose to create that type of environment, you're giving somebody an opportunity to vote with their dollars. I think it's very easy for people to not understand how much weight that carries.

Lee Chaix McDonough: And yeah, thank you. I think you're right, and I want to be clear. I'm sitting here. I'm going to be totally transparent, because that's how I operate. I was sitting here in this discussion. I'm like, "We need to talk about white saviorism too though." Because I want to be really clear. This is not, "Look at us, how amazing we are for hiring Black women." No, that's not okay too. Black women don't need me. Y'all are fine on your own, but if I can help create environments that raise you up, then that's my role to do. It's not a matter of doing it for you or because you need me, but it's because as a white woman, I was born with a certain level of privilege. I didn't ask for it, but I got it, and so what am I going to do with that privilege?

Lee Chaix McDonough: I can use it to build myself up, or I can use it to build everyone around me up, including me. Because a rising tide lifts all boats. I think that's the other piece too, and that's also maybe a nuance between non-racist work and anti-racist work, which is what is the motivation behind the work that you're doing. Are you doing it because you think people need to be rescued, that they need to be fixed? Or are you doing it because you know that they're strong, and you want to amplify their message?

Erica Courdae:                  You hit the nail on the head. It is that intention behind it. What is that belief that you have that fuels what you're doing and why you're doing it? Two people can do the same exact thing, but the one that's like, "See, I did this. This is great, right? Look at how awesome I am." Even if it's just that underlying thing that you're like, "Hm, this isn't really about anyone else. This is all about you." Versus that person that's like, "I simply wanted to be more mindful of how I make choices, and I wanted to make them from a place of equity. I wanted to make them from a place that I am giving everyone an opportunity to be able to do these things, particularly when I know that there are certain areas where the opportunities look a little different for others."

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And it doesn't stop. That's the other thing is you don't get to rest on your laurels and say, "Oh, because I did this, then I can check the box, and now I'm good. Now I'm one of the good ones. Where's my cookie?" It's like, "Yeah, you did it. Awesome. Keep going." And that's a part of being a human being. You're not going to get a reward or a medal for it. You're just doing it because that's a part of being a part of a collective.

Lee Chaix McDonough: This is what we owe to each other, so don't stop. Keep going, and there's a lot of work that I want to continue to do too. I feel very early in my journey, and there are other communities that I'm involved in right now that are not inclusive, that are not as representative as I want them to be, as I think they could be, and I think they would be stronger if they were. And so then I struggle with, "Okay, is this a community, is this an organization I want to continue to be involved with and help create that change? Or is this a community where, I've got to be honest, I don't know if change is possible? And do I need to remove myself from it?" Because I don't want to tacitly endorse anything either.

Lee Chaix McDonough: There's still a lot of work to be done, and I look at my own life and I see areas where it's like, "I could be doing better here, and what does that look like?" Sometimes it means staying involved and fighting from within, and sometimes it means removing yourself and creating change elsewhere.

Erica Courdae:                  And that's exactly right, because there are some places where, when you introduce a different level of awareness, then it can create space for some things to shift. And then there's others where it's not their time yet, and we're all on our journeys. It's just like, when you start to talk about things like mindfulness, I remember when I first started working with my coach years ago, there were things that she said that literally, they just went over my head. I wasn't ready for it yet.

Erica Courdae:                  And when it was time, they would come back up, and I was like, "Oh, I remember this coming up for me, but I can see where I was then versus where I am now," and that's not in a take anything away type of way. It's to say that I can see the evolution that has happened from then until now, and I can see why now this resonates in a way where I can actually take it in and take action. And I think sometimes you have to do that, because ... You mentioned white saviorism.

Erica Courdae:                  I think it can go in two directions. It can go with you trying to save people of color, but it can also go in the way of trying to save white people, because if they're not there and this isn't where they are in their journey, and they're not ready yet, or they haven't done some of the things that needed to be done first to even consider it yet, then you can't come in. And this is not necessarily you, but in general, you can't come in and try to be like, "Hey, this isn't working. There's some other ways that this can be done, and it can be done through a lens of inclusivity and diversity, in order to create this equity."

Erica Courdae:                  If they're not ready for it yet, then they're not going to be able to receive it. You have to understand what your audience, what they are ready to receive.

Lee Chaix McDonough: You're exactly right, and in fact, I'm thinking about my work at first as a therapist and now as a coach. It's very much the same philosophy. You cannot dictate to people what to do. You just can't. You want to. You see what they're doing, and you're like, "Oh, if you would only do this, you would get the results that you want." But if you come in and tell them what to do, you disempower them, and they're not as invested.

Lee Chaix McDonough: What you have to do though is ask the right questions, start the right conversations, and then get people to see the opportunities that are available if we shift our thinking or if we shift our strategy. And so then it becomes more of a partnership and you're inviting them into the process, but you're absolutely right. If they're not ready, if they haven't done the work, if they're not willing to do the work, then it becomes counterproductive, and if anything, then sometimes people just become more defensive and dug in to their own ways. It is important to assess the readiness and the willingness of the people that you're working with.

Erica Courdae:                  Right, and what you said already is 100% right. If you feel as though you are at a place and you are in the room with certain people with certain energy, virtually or physically, and it doesn't serve you, it is okay, and I actually suggest it, to question whether or not this is where you need to be right now. And if the answer is no, that is okay.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yeah, yeah. We have to find that balance between doing the work and also restoring our energy, because if we keep going and going and going and running into brick walls, we're going to burn ourselves out. And we've got to think about the long game on this. We've got to live to fight another day, and so we do need to be mindful of that balance, and of knowing when it's time to move forward and take action, and when we need to replenish ourselves.

Erica Courdae:                  Absolutely, absolutely. Lee, I could talk for another 45 minutes at least.

Lee Chaix McDonough: I know, right? I can't believe that this has-

Erica Courdae:                  At least.

Lee Chaix McDonough: It's gone by like the blink of the eye. I love, I love our conversations, Erica. Every time.

Erica Courdae:                  Same thing here, and seriously, I appreciate the fact that you were willing to come in and speak with me, and to be open and honest about your journey and how it feels or what it looks like, and what it has created for you in your life. I think that, if nothing else, it is extremely valuable to model the change that you want to see, so you doing that is something that, there needs to be more of it. And for that, I appreciate you and I have immense gratitude for you. Thank you.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Well thank you. Thank you for creating this podcast, creating a space where we can have these conversations, and for taking the possibilities, taking advantage of them and saying, "I want to connect with this person. I want to hold these conversations." We need more of that too. The space that you're creating right now is vital, and I'm honored to be a part of it, so thank you for bringing me in.

Erica Courdae:                  Thank you. All right guys, thanks.

Pause on a Play is one iteration of how we use conversation to create connection. Our one on one calls, is another. This is where you can get support on how your beliefs and values around diversity, equity and inclusion, are showing up for your business. How you vote with your dollars, how you are sharing your message to let people know that you curated a space with them in mind, that you want to talk with them and hold space with them to have a seat at the table.

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The conversations we have here are to normalize the challenging things and make them a part of your normal exchanges. This is how we remove stigma and create real change and connection, cross lines and recreate boundaries to support, not separate.

If you enjoyed this podcast, show me some love by subscribing, sharing it with a friend, or leaving us a review. Reviews are the fuel to keep the podcast engine going. Let's get more people dropping the veil and challenging their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Speaking of keeping it going, if you don't already follow and engage with us over on Instagram @ericacourdae, come on over there and do that. I really want to talk with you, so DM me and let's do this.

I love being here and creating the bridge for you to walk over to become the change that you want to see. Join us next time, and until then, keep the dialogue going. Bye.


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