My father used to tell me, “My job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” He was a missionary. He had a huge heart for people who were suffering, a passion for justice, and continually pursued excellence in all he did. He had little patience for those who were entitled, complacent, or just a little too comfortable with themselves and their lives. I think he even got a little secret satisfaction from watching them squirm when he’d ask a tough question or recite a parable that exposed their folly. Yet he still accepted each person, no matter what, as having something wonderful to offer and the potential to learn and grow.
I guess you could say I’m a chip off the old block. In many ways, this same philosophy is what drives my passion for compassionate accountability and transformative communication. At Next Element we are advocates for the persons and personalities who don’t fit, have lost their voice, or struggle to contribute because of toxic environments. We believe in big ideas like “it’s OK to own your potency,” and “diversity is something to be leveraged.”
At the same time we get a little sideways about the entitlement that comes with power, authority, and success. You know, the attitude behind comments like “Do it because I said so,” or “After all I’ve done for you,” or “You should be thankful to have a job,” or “Sometimes you just have to bring the hammer down.” We believe in other big ideas too, like “It’s OK to want others to learn and grow without expecting them to,” and “If you want things to change, it starts with you,” and “Your title doesn’t entitle you.”
If you get involved with us you can count on a few basic things. We’ll support you and believe in you. We’ll challenge you where you’ve gotten too comfortable. And we’ll struggle together. That’s compassionate accountability and the power of positive conflict to create something wonderful.
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