Written By: Jan
By Jan Brogdon
Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.
― Bryan Stevenson
A couple of my DBD colleagues have shared their experiences from this past August’s Global Leadership Summit. I too have been inspired from an extraordinary leader who is making significant impact through his work.
Bryan Stevenson, a highly acclaimed activist and lawyer, has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned through his leadership of the Equal Justice Initiative. He has successfully argued several cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and his TED talk has more than three million views. The best-selling author of Just Mercy, Stevenson was named to Fortune’s 2016 World’s Greatest Leaders list.
Bryan’s remarks gave pause to many of us, both in the auditorium and across the global stage. He challenged us to consider whether the things we are focused on in our lives really matter. Bryan challenged us to see how he has focused his work and that of his team, on seeking justice in today’s broken world.
His four key tenets:
- Leaders must get “proximate” to the people they are serving. As Bruce so eloquently challenged us in last week’s blog, we must be close enough to the problem to “smell the smoke” in order to describe to others how they can help make an impact.
- We must change the narrative surrounding our community’s challenges. In a world filled with anger and misunderstanding, how can we bring the pain others feel into our discussion and actively engage in exploration of ways to significantly improve the injustice?
- With budget, legislative, employee and other tough challenges within non-profit leadership and the focus on addressing our cause, how can we stay hopeful, not be discouraged and see how even small wins in the right direction can be meaningful steps along the journey.
- Be willing to do uncomfortable things. In our career journey there will be many times when we link arms with others to address unmet needs or work to make a difference. When it’s the right thing to do, we must be secure enough to step up, even when it’s not comfortable.
Bryan Stevenson is a leader whose presence inspired, challenged and convicted me. He reminded me that change comes at a cost, but it’s a price worth paying. His voice for justice in our world has significant value and his key tenets apply to all of us in the organizations we serve.