Workshops Probe Diversity Issues

The British philosophical writer James Allen stated poetically: 

“Mind is the Master Power that moulds and makes, And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes, the tool of thought, and shaping what he wills, brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass: Environment is but his looking glass.” 

We recently wrapped up a four-week workshop series entitled: Understanding Diversity – Its Purpose, Power and Place. In this series we defined terms and tackled questions like: What about our children? What is the role of coaching in DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) initiatives? What is it that people really need and want? Is there something better than traditional DEI initiatives? Why are most DEI initiatives DOA – What’s missing? How do you permanently change systems, policies and cultures?

Participants learned about the importance of self-analysis to elevate one’s level of consciousness, and what to do to accomplish this. I introduced a new DEI model of initiatives that is evidence based. Core components are taken from the work of industry leaders in personal and professional development like Stephen R. Covey, Napoleon Hill, John Maxwell, William A. Guillory, and positive psychologist, Dr. Martin Seligman, just to name a few.

My model focuses on taking personal responsibility to raise self-awareness. Transformation can only take place when there is awareness. Dr. William Guillory stated that the first step to change is awareness. He further stated that most people are unaware that they are unaware of something and are thus, lost. But for those who are at least aware that there are things that they don’t know that they don’t know, then there is hope for these individuals.

Fear, anxiety, distrust, poverty, scarcity, lack, limitation and hatred all come from what a person has been conditioned to believe. Beliefs are just thoughts you hold as true. Whatever you believe, you will experience. You have to change your thoughts to change your behavior.  I created a model of the mind to demonstrate exactly how this scientific process of rewiring the brain worked through neuroplasticity.

It is my opinion that until the root cause is addressed, current DEI initiatives have the “cart before the horse” with trying to change the behavior of people, industries and corporations, public and private, instead of focusing on the thinking that causes negative behavior.

Attendees of the diversity workshop included our first selectman, Dr. David Bindelglass, along with other town residents. They have amicably started the conversation on key issues about DEI. Here are some of their comments about their overall experience in the Diversity Workshop series:   

“I highly recommend Vivian Hardison’s seminar on diversity. She explores the root causes of prejudice, bias and stereotyping in an open forum where participants are encouraged to share different views of a complex subject. She is willing to discuss the strengths and weakness of our current approaches to the problem of racial conflict and stresses the importance of personal coaching in changing the thinking of the individual. Change in behavior can only come from changes in thinking. Through the dialogue and exchange of views in her seminar my thinking about this important issue was changed.” — Dana Benson

“As much as I wish we had a magic wand and could fix our race issues with a spell, I believe we cannot legislate good behavior. It’s up to the individual. Then maybe this leads to collective change.”  — Wendy Bowditch, Easton Republican Town Committee chair

 “I enjoyed the discussions and hearing other people’s opinions. It was a great opportunity to broaden our horizons and learn from each other under Vivian’s watchful eye.” — First Selectman Dr. David Bindelglass

Also participating in these discussions were Judy Garfinkel, ACC, president of the Connecticut Chapter of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), and Sharon Jacobson, ACC, one of the founding partners of The Coaching Cohort, a business expansion tool established in 2019. They and other regional leaders from across New York State allacknowledge that we have more to learn and want to explore ways to improve the lives of our neighbors. 

Each Wednesday following the Sunday session, participants were invited to attend a virtual lunchtime session integration with me from noon to 1 p.m. People asked questions, reconnected and shared stories of their progress and challenges as they practiced a new way of thinking. At the end of the workshop series, it was abundantly clear that writing new laws or changing policies and procedures alone cannot and will not change minds. It is not possible to legislate changes of the heart. That is an individual decision and is an internal process. Change takes place in a community one mind at a time.  Change starts with you! 

To learn more about the 2021 Abundant Life Workshop series and Coach Vivian, log onto her website: www.vivianhardison.com and LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/vivian-hardisoncpc-ma-58920650

Vivian C. Hardison, MA, is a certified professional coach, member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and board member of the Connecticut Chapter of ICF. She has a clinical background in cardiovascular medicine and pharmaceutical research. Her love of science led her to a career in studying the science behind human behavior and the way we think. In her coaching practice, she specializes in cognitive transformational processes to help her clients shift paradigms that govern behavior. Coach Vivian lives in the town of Easton and has been a member of the town’s Conservation Commission for over six years. She is well known by town officials and has a notable reputation in leadership development, personal empowerment and workshop facilitation. 

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