I was so completely wrong about what leadership is.

I've been thinking a lot about leadership lately. Growing up, I had a picture in my head about what leadership was. What being "in charge" looked like. 



Being a leader meant being cold and distant. Detaching yourself from the emotions and needs of people around you. Fixing "problems" which was usually code for eliminating things and people you didn't like from your circle of influence. Ignoring different opinions. Doing everything you could to make sure you came out on top. No matter the cost. 



If this is what leadership is then I had very little interest in being a leader



Still don't. 

I want to see you. I want to hear your story.
— Krystle Cobran



I want to be a person. A human who cares about what people think because I care about who they are. Someone who listens because she understands loneliness and believes that part of the purpose of pain is to open our eyes to the love we can choose give. A being who sees people and offers them the kindness she's willing to learn to give to herself. 



What I thought was leadership was really fear trying to hide itself in insecurity



This was a revelation to me. A revelation that set me free to begin discovering what leadership really is. 



Leadership is you and me walking beside each other, choosing to listen and truly understand each other as we journey together



You are a leader. 

I am a leader. 

We learn to lead when we choose to show up to life as ourselves. 



That is what makes you a leader. 



Right where you are. Today. 



With love,

Krystle




Kind is strong is kind is strong is...

There’s a closeness to these brave notes we share. A tenderness I take very seriously.


*Deep breath.* 

Something's been bubbling in my heart: 

 

Kind is strong is kind is strong. 

 

I don’t know when it happened.

I can’t pinpoint the precise moment I ingested the lie that kind and strong are opposites. If I want to be kind I have to give up being strong, and if I want to be strong I need to commit to being less kind. 

 

??????????

 

When did it become true that kindness = weakness?

 

Truthfully, I don’t know if I ever really believed this. But I sure did feel pressure to conform to it.

I felt it in the stories that surround us, in the assumptions that fill the air as we go about our lives.

 

“So and so is so strong.”  

“So and so is so kind.” 

Almost never, “So and so is strong and kind.”

 

Can you relate?

 

If so, I’d like to invite you to write a new story with me. 
 

A story that shares the truth of what real kindness and strength look like. 


Here are few examples of kindness

Choosing healthy boundaries

Clear communication

Taking time to rest 

Flexibility, perseverance, and resilience 

 

Here are few examples of strength

Choosing healthy boundaries

Clear communication

Taking time to rest 

Flexibility, perseverance, and resilience 
 

Kind is strong is kind is strong

 

It was never true,. Kindness and strength aren’t opposites. 

 

Kindness and strength go hand-in-hand

 

Kind is strong is kind is strong is kind is strong is....  

 

Share an example of how kindness and strength go together in your life below. I’m listening.

Talking about race will always make me uncomfortable. (I hope.)

Talking about race makes me uncomfortable. I literally write, speak, train, and facilitate conversations about race that generate connection for a living. You’d think that I’d have gotten past the discomfort by now.


Not even close.


I still feel a deep ripple of nausea when I talk or write about race publicly. (It’s happening right now as I type this words to you.) What will they think about my approach? What will they think about my framework and techniques? What if I say something accidentally offensive? Can I tell the truth about how painful it is to live in the body I’m in? Will people be ticked off by my storytelling?


I feel this fear every time. Every. Single. Time. When I do a speaking event, when I submit another draft of my book manuscript, when I send out my weekly braveletter, when I host my podcast or do a podcast interview, when I consult with organizations and coach my clients. Even when I sit in one-on-one conversations with friends.


The fear of saying the wrong thing never leaves me.


I spend a lot of time wondering why this is. Am I a people-pleaser? Am I more invested in how I appear than in living the truth of who I am? Am I worried about being judged?


After sitting with this agony (and trying unsuccessfully to run from it), I’ve discovered something that seems to always helps me when I’m writing, facilitating, or leading a conversation about race:


News flash: I don’t have all the answers.

Because the truth is that conversations about race are conversations about human pain. They’re conversations about connection and belonging. About the agony of feeling discarded. Forgotten. Left behind. Misinformed. About asking questions that none of us truly knows the answers to: Why are we doing this to each other? When did we start believing that in order to feel valuable, seen, and heard we needed to elevate one human being over another based on something neither human being had any choice in before entering the world? Why won’t we listen to each other’s pain? Stand witness to one another’s stories? How are we even supposed to begin to change the systems and relationships that keep it all going?


Why is it that we keep ignoring the reality that action without listening = fixing?


No human being wants to be fixed by another human being.


We want to be listened to.

We want to be understood.

We want to be treated with respect and dignity.

We want to be the decider in the story of our lives.

We want to be heard.

We want to be seen.

We want to belong.


It’s a wild thing to say, but I hope I’m never comfortable in conversations about race. Because I want to choose to listen. I want to choose to reach for unfamiliar stories. I want to wrestle with the dynamic relationship between systemic inequity and individual relationships and resist the urge to pick a side. I’m in deep and I want to dive deeper. I want to stay uncomfortable because I want to see you, all of you, and I want to learn how to let you see me.


I want to transform you versus me into WE.

I hope I’m always uncomfortable in conversations about race, because the discomfort helps me choose to listen instead thinking that I already know.
— Krystle Cobran


I want to stay uncomfortable because my discomfort makes me aware. It keeps me conscious. Mindful conversations about race happen in the weaving. In the weaving of your story with my story so that together we can find the freedom that comes with admitting that we just don’t know. It’s in that freedom that discomfort becomes fuel for genuine conversation. Fertile soil for the awareness of choice to take root.


The discomfort is an invitation. An invitation to run face-first into the not-knowing.


And it’s in the not-knowing that we begin to discover the reality of who we really are. Where we start to crack open the doors of choice and become true witnesses to the stories we actually live.

The discomfort is a sign that we’re beginning to see each other.


How do you deal with your discomfort in conversations about race? Leave me a note in the comments below.

For when you feel like you've lost your voice.

There are seasons of life that are glorious. When we feel like we’ve conquered the mountain, our voices are strong, and our confidence is flying high. 


This is not one of those seasons for me.


When the way forward doesn’t seem clear, the challenges feel overwhelming, and the next step seems impossible, it can be difficult to speak.


To share what’s happening inside with the people we trust. 


To let down our guard and give ourselves permission to be so that we can make the choice to become. 


This growing into who we are journey is not a glamorous process. In many ways, it is bone-level wearying. 


But when it is dark, our voices have not left us. They have not disappeared. The stillness of the present moment is not the destination of our lives, it is the choice we’re making today so we can grow into our tomorrows. 


Finding our voice is not about external performances. About how many people agree with our choices or have validated our decisions. 


This is a deep, gut-level, coming to terms with believing that who we are is exactly who we’re supposed to be. Accepting that the challenges we face aren’t the containers in which we live our lives, they’re the stepping stones that lead us towards the hope we want to create.


When there are closing doors. When there is the feeling of being utterly overwhelmed. When there is distance between who we are and who we thought we were going to be. 


That is when our voices are glowing within us. Calling us to embrace living our truths so that we can speak our truths. 


Calling us to share precisely who we are, where we are, right now. 


Because the moment we’re convinced we’ve lost our voice usually comes just before the moment we discover we’ve found it.