The language of silence

Sandy Hook, silence, languageWe often look to language to help us make sense of the world.

When something like Sandy Hook happens, language fails us.

There are no words that can express the shock, the grief, the fear, the anger, the sadness that washes over us, for each of us in a different order and at a different frequency.

I invite you–as a fellow human being witnessing and experiencing this tragedy in your own way–to take a little time to simply be silent. I invite you to notice all that you feel, wish for and dream of–for yourself, for your loved ones and for this world–when you allow yourself to stop looking for words to make sense of it all.

In that silence we can all–hopefully and in our own time–reconnect with our belief that it’s possible to make the world a better place. And that it’s up to us to make it so.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi


Sparking conversations vs. elevator pitching

elevator pitch, conversations,
What conversations will you spark today?

When we sit down to craft our ‘elevator pitch’, we generally ask ourselves: “What do I want people to know about me and my organization?”

That’s the wrong question.

The right question is: “What words can I use to spark conversations that will make my community better, stronger and more vibrant?”  

Your elevator pitch is a gateway to a better world. Every time you talk to someone about your work, it’s an opportunity to spark a conversation about building that better world.

Are you building a better world by ending poverty, hunger or bullying? How about world-class theater or breath-taking sculpture? Or maybe your better-world convos center around sustainability, transportation and housing?

If you focus solely on you and your organization rather than sparking a conversation, you’re missing out on the building-a-better-world boat.

So ask yourself: what conversations will I spark today?

Because We Can! A Tribute to Senator Scott White

Senator Scott White
Scott White: waving to voters the day after he was elected

On Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 2:14PM Pacific, I published a blog post on the iSector.

On Friday, October 21, 2011 at 6:11PM Pacific, I got a phone call from my dear friend, Alison Carl White.

On Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 8:24AM Pacific, I was running around the seawall in Vancouver, B.C. in gale force winds and torrential downpour.

This three moments are inextricably linked.

The iSector was the outgrowth of my long-held belief that the name of our sector–currently, the Nonprofit Sector–does a huge disservice to what we are trying to accomplish. I can’t say I love the name ‘iSector’, and I will continue to search for a better name, but at least it gets us away from referring to ourselves as the ‘Non-Progress Sector’.  Publishing that post was a big moment for me.

The phone call from Alison was another big moment, but in a very different–and tragic–way. She was calling because she had just learned that her husband, Senator Scott White, had died. Alison is 39. They have two young children. Scott embodied health, energy and leadership. To say this was a shock would be the understatement of 2011.

What struck me most about Scott was his belief that so much was possible. While most of us would scratch our heads, shuffle our feet (looking a lot like Eeyore), and wonder how we’d get out of this mess (insert whichever mess might cause you consternation, e.g. education, transportation, the environment), Scott was bounding along in pursuit of a better path forward (sort of like Tigger, with the brains of Owl).

I imagine Scott knew a roadblock when he saw one, but he never seemed to focus on its presence. He always seemed focused on how to find a dignified way around it that would make the world a better place. He was pragmatic, for darn sure. But he was also an optimist.

And this brings me back to that gusty run. As I came around the point, it blew so hard I actually fell over (not a pretty moment). I was so wet that my shoes were making a bizarre squishing noise every time my foot struck the ground. You’d think I would’ve been cursing this run.

Instead, I was grinning ear to ear.

Why? Because I could be running in that crazy weather. Because I had a choice. Because it was possible.

In moments like these, I now think about Scott. I think about what’s possible. I try to think bigger. As big as Scott thought about what’s possible.

I believe it is possible for us to  truly make the world a better place. Call me a Polyanna. Call me naive. I really don’t care.

I believe–regardless of tax status and official sector name–that if you get up every morning set on making the world a better place, that you can. And that you do.

On that run, I had a vision of a sea of people with t-shirts, badges, ball caps, tattoos, and buttons that all said: Because we can!

Because we can make the world a better place. If we couldn’t, why bother trying?

We should try. Every day. In ways big and small. We should try.

We should make the world a better place, because we can.




Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?