Awesome

Here’s a helpful filter to know when to worry: does something sound too good to be true, or does it sound so bad that people give up and stop thinking for themselves?

Either way, when everyone around you agrees, it’s worth asking some questions. Questions like: “What’s really going on here—and who is threatened by disagreement?”

Consider it an opportunity! When it comes to Coronavirus life, an astounding amount of groupthink is currently taking place. It’s as though everyone is taking the collective temperature (no pun intended…) before deciding what they believe and how they should act.

To be clear, I’ve said several times that the most important thing we can do is keep people safe. And as an introvert who frequently spends twenty-four hours a day by myself, I’ve also been social distancing for most of my life. (“Social distancing is the new silent retreat.”)

But whether it’s COVID-thinking or something else, if you can’t find someone who disagrees with you, someone who has another perspective—it’s time to worry. Or at the very least it’s time to widen your circle, read different media, and consider opposing viewpoints.

Otherwise, you’ll never have the chance to experience the courage of changing your mind.

Questions

Speaking up as the only dissenter in the group requires bravery, but so does acknowledging that you might not be right about everything. Are you courageous enough to do so? Most people aren’t.

Fortunately, you aren’t most people … right? You are an original—so think for yourself, and don’t accept what you’re told without closely examining it.

One more thing: have you ever heard “You must learn the rules before you break them”? This is a classic gatekeeping strategy.

Just imagine: If you’re trying to break out of prison, you don’t need to spend forty years becoming a model prisoner before you hide in a laundry cart. You’ll be much better served by studying up on successful prison breaks.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re taking care of yourself and working on something you believe in. The rest of us need you to keep going.🙂

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anyone like this as much as me

On February 23rd, Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down by two white men while he was going for a jog. On March 13th, EMT Breonna Taylor was shot eight times by the police in her home. On May 25th, George Floyd was slowly suffocated to death by a white police officer. 

Right now it is absolutely crucial that white people do the work to dismantle the systems of white supremacy. We have to commit to taking long-term action. So what does that look like? Where do we even start? 

Like many people right now, I’m in active learning mode.

Team Forleo and I are about to embark on our annual two-week company closure and, as we prepare for this break, we’ve been compiling and sharing anti-racism books, videos, and podcasts with each other on Slack. 

At first, I wanted to share that list with you on the blog, but here’s the thing…

Black educators have already done this work. They’ve been doing it for years. It’s not my voice that matters. It’s theirs. Instead of publishing yet another list, I’d like to tell you what I’m personally reading right now, and give you a few already-compiled resource guides created by Black people.

This reading list by Arielle Grey is a great place to start. She writes, “[A]n important part of learning about racism is realizing that no reading list can do the work for you. Learning and excommunicating your internalized racism is a lifelong process that requires intense self-study and determination.”

I’m personally reading How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and highly recommend it. It’s an eye-opening, powerful examination of racism in America.

If you’d like to dive deeper, Tasha K. Ryals compiled this shareable anti-racism guide. It includes suggested pre-reading, memoirs, essays, and resources on immigration, indigenous studies, Latinx studies, and more.

This guide on anti-racism for beginners, now under the leadership of Tiffany Bowden, PhD, is also tremendous.  

It has articles, definitions, terms to understand, books to read, Black educators and leaders to follow, and other ways you can take action.

Yes, it’s a lot. I understand that these lists may feel overwhelming at first, especially if you’re just getting started. But learning and taking action is non-negotiable. I encourage you to click, pick, and go. Remember, clarity comes from engagement, not thought.

If you’re feeling frozen — like you want to help but you’re afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing — here are five additional resources to check out.

How Can We Win
This 6-minute video featuring writer Kimberly Jones is powerful, heartbreaking, and vitally important. If you’re brand new to the work of anti-racism, please watch this.

8:46
In this thought-provoking 20-minute standup, Dave Chapelle speaks candidly about the murder of George Floyd, celebrity responsibility, and being Black in America. 

Stream to Donate
Want to donate but don’t have a dollar to spare? This 24-hour hip-hop livestream by Revive Music donates all their ad revenue to Black Lives Matter. 

Less Caption. More Action.
Entrepreneur and B-School alum, Gabrielle Thomas, is leading an initiative to help empower Black entrepreneurs. Through her website, you can offer a free service, mentorship, education, event ticket, or opportunity on your podcast, newsletter, blog, or social media platform. Gabrielle will match you with a Black business owner who needs your skillset. And if you’re a Black business owner who’d like to be matched, click here.

Freedom Festival
Magogodi Makhene and her partners created an arts-filled virtual festival that’s happening July 12-19. They say, “We want to activate everyday citizens to purposeful behavior and inspired action. Our work is rooted in love and fueled by the arts.” It features art, community, workshops, and music. Until then, the founders are also offering a free 30-Day Anti-Racist Challenge on Instagram. 

There can be no significant change in the world unless we first have the courage to change ourselves. In order to change ourselves, we must first believe we can.

The importance of this moment cannot be understated. 

We need all hands and hearts on deck. This is a turning point, in an infinite number of ways. It’s hard to express how profoundly I’ve been changed, and how grateful I am to be present at this time. It’s long, long overdue. 

Thanks for a great discussion. Comments are now closed.

With enormous love and respect,

The post Anti-Racism Resources: Guides From Black Educators & Ways to Take Action appeared first on .

Who else thinks self-improvement is cool

Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me straight in the face, soon after I got married. At that point, I had been married for a few months. I didn’t even know if I wanted kids, much less when I was having them.

Caught off guard, I said, “I have not decided if I want kids.” I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who had difficulty conceiving for a variety of reasons, with the implicit message being that I was going to be like them and regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on churning out babies.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I received varying forms of “When are you having kids?”, followed by a routine, almost ritualistic pressurization to have kids.

Lest you think that it ends after having a child, it doesn’t — the people who previously tried to persuade you to have “just one kid” when you were indifferent to the idea, now tell you to have “just one more.” It seems like you just can’t win. 😒

The problem with asking, “When are you having kids?”

I can understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, settle down, get married, and have kids. This is the life path that we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the path that we’ve been told is the way of life, which would bring us ultimate joy and happiness.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture, where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. There are even sayings built around this notion, such as 生儿育女 (shēng ér yù nǚ), which means to birth sons and raise daughters, and 子孙满堂 (zǐ sūn mǎn táng), which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren.

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to depict a vision of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that you should have kids. “When are you having kids?” they ask, somehow expecting you to give them a straight answer.

The problem with this question is that it’s rude. It’s presumptuous. It’s also insensitive.

1) Happiness can come in different forms

Firstly, everyone has their path in life. Some people want kids, while some don’t want kids. Some people think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see having kids as a burden to their carefree life. To presume that everyone should have kids, especially when the person has never said anything about wanting kids, is rude and disregards the person’s preferences and choice in life.

Take for example, Oprah Winfrey. She chose not to have children and has dedicated herself to her personal purpose of serving the world. Oprah hosted her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show which ran for 25 years, founded a leadership academy for girls and became a mother figure to the girls in attendance, and started her own television network. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for humans worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

There are other people who chose not to have kids as well.

  • Betty White, actress and comedian, chose not to have kids as she’s passionate about her career and focused on it.[2]
  • Chelsea Handler, talkshow host, doesn’t have kids as she doesn’t have the time to raise a child herself, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[3]
  • Ashley Judd, actress and politican activist, chose not to have kids as there are already so many orphaned kids in this world, and she feels that her resources can be better used to help those already here.[4]

And then there are others who chose not to have kids, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei, Renée Zellweger, and Rachael Ray. These people choose not to have kids for different reasons, such as because they’re pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or they just don’t feel a deep desire to have kids. Not having kids has not prevented them from being happy in life, and there’s no reason to assume why people must have kids in order to be happy.

2) You may well cause hurt and pain

Secondly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids, but maybe they are facing fertility struggles.

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[5]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[6]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[7]

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,[8] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[9]

For some people, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain, struggle, and losses as they experience miscarriages, undergo round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in hope of the double blue lines on their pregnancy kit each month.

And then there are people who cannot have their own biological children due to issues with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth.

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[5]

3) Not everyone is in a position to have kids

Thirdly, having kids is simply not a reality for some people due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in a place like Singapore.

Some people may be facing problems with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people facing chronic health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, which make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

4) Some couples could still be thinking

And then there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids, like myself when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having a kid should be an automatic decision, because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that will change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you’re bringing into the world.

For those yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want, not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the initial years after I got married, I just wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life with just my husband first, before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, both my husband and I were genuinely happy spending the rest of our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids at all, not in the way my culture obssesses about it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems, and I was fully focused on supporting him through these. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“[This relative’s] baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

It was as if I was some vehicle, some production machine to have kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband would never get it (as a man), not even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is also a complex one. It is a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple in question.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants to carry grandchildren or their aunt wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to nurture another life.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7, whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for a new life, or who will be responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 18-21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violenceabuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities, and not make parenthood seem like it’s some magical band-aid that solves a lack of purpose or life’s pressures. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a big strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through 6 years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you tend to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, insensitive, and it disregards people’s privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them about it.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they really don’t want kids,
  2. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  3. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (c), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon coffee chat, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people their personal space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking women or couples, “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like how you would a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, you can simply ask, “Are you and your partner planning to have kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a generic answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change a person’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids, and some people will not have kids. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths, and there’s nothing wrong about any of them.

For Me

For my husband and I, we eventually had a few discussions and decided to have a baby, and had our baby girl this year (2020). 😊 Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only annoyed me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision between me and my husband, that has nothing to do with them. It was after we had the space to settle down and enjoy married life without kids, and took some time to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid last year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are other things that I’m working on, other things that are happening that I look forward to sharing in time to come. Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it. I’ll talk to you guys soon! 🙂

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