As a brander, I've focused much of my career on building unity among teams and around brands. I work with clients to build cohesive messaging and graphic guidelines that will help teams feel connected to something bigger than themselves. While this approach is an important part of building a collective identity, to build unity, we must tap into something much deeper.
As a coach, I have the privilege of having raw conversations with a wide variety of people. In those conversations I witness the extent to which the trappings of society disunite us from ourselves—from the people we long to be and the unique individuals we truly are. We think things should be a certain way. We punish ourselves for our desires to be free. We judge people whose actions diverge from our own.
I'm becoming convinced that the true source of unity lies in self-discovery and self-celebration. Until we find and embrace our true selves, we put up walls that protect us from others' judgements. We deny ourselves the beauty that peeks out during our moments of greatness. We shame ourselves for wanting something different than our "successful" lives.
But once we unite with ourselves—once we celebrate the greatness and shadows that make us whole—we begin to see that everyone is a wondrous combination of light and darkness. We start to see that the labels we assign are merely protective measures that hold us back from becoming untied with people different from ourselves.
Some questions to ponder as you build unity within your organization, community or family:
- What is holding me back from fully appreciating and celebrating myself?
- What do I need to admit to myself about myself that will set me free?
- Which of my gifts do I need to acknowledge and cherish to feel more whole?
As we start to honor the uniqueness inside of us, we can start to rejoice in the uniqueness inside everyone. And when we do that, we will truly be united.
UNITY Project Launches June 2!
One month from today, we will launch a new interactive public art project, called UNITY. The project is a response to the divisiveness and negative rhetoric in American politics. With this project, we hope to raise consciousness about the labels we give ourselves and others and explore how those labels both support and limit building interconnected, diverse communities.
UNITY is a larger-than-life structure that helps us celebrate our uniqueness and strengthens our ties to each other. The project consists of 32 posts, each with identifiers such as, “I’m a parent; I speak English as a second language; I identify as LGBTQ,” etc. Participants will tie colorful yarn to posts that reflect their identities. Ultimately their yarn will intertwine with others’ to create a web of interconnectedness. In the end, we see that we are all connected by something, and it's our diversity that builds a strong and vibrant community.
UNITY launches on June 2nd on the 2200 block of Mt. Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA. Stay tuned for more information on how to participate. Or if you're really excited about it, e-mail me to find out more!