President’s Message: Using Our Coaching Hearts to Support Change with Courage


#I Can’t Breathe

I have found it challenging to compose a message during such a tumultuous time.

We continue to experience the effects of COVID-19; the public loss of black lives Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor; the history and legacy of systemic racism towards Indigenous Peoples in Canada; as well as the continued perpetuation of systemic inequality.

Our world will be forever changed by the events of this year. The challenge is how to show up in a world that has become more complex than ever.

In March 2019, I attended a Dare to Lead training with Brené Brown. During this training a conversation erupted around diversity and inclusion. Multiple people stood up in the room to express their pain from being excluded. At the time I was not sure what had started it, but it was definitely overwhelming. I understood, #I Can’t Breathe, as I sat and listened to everyone’s pain. After the event I connected with the person who had started the conversation. I remember thinking how brave she was to stand up and communicate her pain in such a public way. It also highlighted the fact that you can never understand someone’s experience unless you are willing to have a conversation with them.

I am making a conscious decision to notice our differences and challenging myself to be more curious about the struggles of others. I am questioning my unconscious biases and blind spots. I am open to having uncomfortable conversations with both my clients and those around me to change the inequality in our community and our world.

We are seeing fears about the future and altered mindsets from isolation. I am asking myself how do I support clients at this time? How do I prepare them for September as we go into what is predicted to be the second wave of COVID-19? How do I assist leaders to find the courage to lead with more heart and to find empathy for their teams? The only antidote to fear is love. To get through these challenges we need braver leaders with the courage to not have all the answers.

I invite you to join me on my journey of exploration and to start a conversation in our community. Chapter members can use the Chapter’s private LinkedIn group to post and comment on what you are experiencing and how we can use our coaching hearts to support the change that is happening in the world.

Here is a link to a test created by Harvard University. This will assess your own unconscious bias.

Know you dare well enough to sit in the dark with other – Pema Chödrön


Cheryl Joslin
Vancouver Island Coaches Association