Monday, April 7th 2014 will mark a pivotal point in my career, and my life. On this day I will be presenting at the 2014 Louisiana Society for HR Management State Conference, and will be talking about inclusion and diversity, from my own unique perspective. I was born with a severe to profound hearing loss in both ears, and also struggle with an often energy sapping speech impediment.
The reason why this event is a pivotal point for me is because it will mark the first time in my lifetime that I’ll openly tell my story to a public audience. I have written about it, I have done a lot of work in diversity and inclusion strategy and practices in my career, but I have never talked about my own story as it relates to how organizations can effectively leverage diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
I have spent quite a bit of time working on this new presentation, and not surprisingly has taken me far longer to finish that I anticipated. In typical fashion I pulled up a blank Word document and I started writing — putting my candid thoughts down about the topic, key points, visuals, quotes, lessons, etc… I whizzed through this part and quickly moved onto the content creation phase, which is my favourite. I breezed through certain pieces but struggled on others. The key part that I struggled most with was my personal story. Even though I have been on this planet for over 35 years and have obviously lived every second as me it was still an extremely difficult exercise.
What I Learned
The critical thing that I learned about myself while I was working through this presentation is the key things that I owe my success too were required in order to successfully finish this presentation. Those things are courage, perseverance, hard work, confidence and perspective. As I will share with the audience in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Monday these were the core factors that helped me through some of the most difficult times of my life, when I was growing up. For those that will be unable to attend my session, need not worry as I’ll be blogging about my experience post-conference.
My nervousness, worry, self-doubt and sore thumbs (I tend to chew the sides of my thumbs when I get nervous and worried) have now given way to excitement and feeling proud. Every single person on this planet is unique, and organizations are made up of unique people who also share similarities. The dynamic nature of diversity and inclusion lies at the intersection of our uniqueness, and our ability to accept and leverage for success.