I recently wrote about telling my new story and letting go of old stories that I had created for myself. I have some recent learnings about understanding other people’s stories. The power of discovering what makes other people tick, what inspires them, scares them, creates joy or creates pain. I have written before about how I believe we learn the most when we make mistakes. So the lesson I am sharing is a combination of understanding and embracing someone else’s story and learning from my mistake.
On the day after the movie 42 was released, the story about the life of Jackie Robinson, I took my 12 and 14 year old. It was a wonderful movie for our family. After the movie we had a fantastic discussion. We were all moved to ensure that we are part of fighting against discrimination from all angles and for all people. Our conversation included talking about what it might be like to be an LGBT teenager in today’s world.
I took every opportunity to recommend the movie to others hoping they would have the same positive experience. I even went so far as to recommend the movie while on a panel at a meeting. I received some feedback that I had made some of the audience uncomfortable with my recommendation. At first I didn’t understand why recommending the movie garnered that response. Then I questioned whether I had the right to recommend the movie – not knowing if the movie would generate the same feelings or conversations for everyone as it did for my family.
I was incredibly fortunate that one of the people in the meeting, who did not appreciate the recommendation, spent time with me explaining their story and sharing why having someone like me recommending the movie created some anger. He explained to me the pain watching that movie would create for him. While it was a moment in history that we need to learn from; for him watching the movie was only a reminder of the horrible experiences his grandparents and parents had faced.
A few things happened during our conversation, first I was so incredibly grateful that he would take the time to explain to me his perspective and I knew that this was a critical lesson for me. Our conversation created a connection. We can connect even when our experiences are so very different. We can connect when we have the courage and honesty to have conversations. We can have a conversation that leads to learning and that leads to our world becoming bigger and more inclusive – even when it’s awkward and sometimes painful. I will continue to reach out, to listen and to learn and appreciate those who are willing to do the same.
My gift is to let people hear my story and think about their own. My responsibility is to help others create their very best story. I can absolutely give financial advice, advice on leadership, on what it is like to be a female executive and mother. I can also encourage others to share their story and give advice from their experience.
So if I had the chance to do it again, would I change anything? No, because I would have missed the learning. There is power in sharing our experiences. It helps us feel connected. It helps us learn from each other. I’d like to share one more story. It’s one of the reason’s I’m so proud to work at Wells Fargo. I was lucky enough to be a part of a project that uses words to heal. Together with my colleagues, we created an “It Gets Better” video to send a message of support to LGBT youth. Wells Fargo is a founding sponsor of the It Gets Better Project. Click on the link and let me know what you think.